Thursday, February 12, 2015 | Comics
Final Crisis, by Grant Morrison, is where this story begins... even thought it comes fairly near the end. Let me begin again. I became interested in Final Crisis because of Grant Morrison. His comics do it for me. After I finished the excellent collection of stories that make up the Final Crisis TPB, I wanted to get deeper into all the various plot threads that Morrison had woven into his comic epic. This is a quick summary of some of those threads, and where to better explore them (notes from Wikipedia).
Final Crisis was described by editor Dan DiDio as the finale in a trilogy of stories about the Multiverse, describing each Crisis:
The death of the Multiverse
(Crisis on Infinite Earths),
the rebirth of the Multiverse
the ultimate story of the Multiverse
More than anything else, it's the Final Crisis of the Monitors, as we'll see in #7 and brings that story from Crisis On Infinite Earths to a logical conclusion. It's also the Final Crisis of the Fourth World. How the challenges, possibilities and rules of the emerging Fifth World are developed is something that will either be acknowledged or overlooked by other DC creators in the years to come.
It's also 'final' in the sense that it's all about endings and apocalypses. It shows the DCU degrading, drained of all meaning, drained even of stories and characters, reduced to nothing but darkness, a mute Superman and a greedy Vampire God. We even break down the conventional storytelling modes at the end until there's nothing familiar left in an effort to convey what the end of a universe might feel like.
I suppose there could conceivably be more 'Crises' – DC is a neverending story, after all - but as far as I know there are none scheduled for the near future. Otherwise, I refuse to take responsibility for any that may arise long after I've gone.
Although DiDio's comments highlight 3 major Crisis stories (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis) there have been a variety of Crisis stories (see Wikipedia: Crisis (DC Comics).
There are still all kinds of words to put in front of 'Crisis.' There's 'Constant Crisis', 'Future Crisis', 'Mid-Life Crisis.' But please don't say that to them [DC]. Really, don't even hint that there could be more crises.
What follows is my attempt to better understand Grant Morrison's DC work. It began with one book, Final Crisis, and in true Multiverse fashion, continued to grow richer and go deeper from there.
Let's begin at the beginning... MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The Flash of Two Worlds
So where did the Multiverse come from? Well, it's generally accepted that the idea of the Multiverse first took root in 1961's THE FLASH #123, in a story called "The Flash of Two Worlds." In this Silver Age classic written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Carmine Infantino, Barry Allen was teleported to Keystone City and met the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick.
True, the Flash didn't then go on to discover a bunch of different worlds with a bunch of different super heroes, but this issue did establish a few key components to the Multiverse. Jay Garrick's Golden Age Earth occupies the same space as ours, but vibrates at a different frequency, and the super heroes in Garrick's world were the heroes found in the comics published in Allen's world—a concept that Morrison really has some fun with in The Multiversity.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
As the 50th anniversary of DC Comics was close, major events were proposed for the celebration: an encyclopedia (Who's Who) and a crossover throughout the ages, characters and worlds appearing in DC Comics. As told in the letter section of Crisis On Infinite Earths #1, as the research started in the late 70's, it became evident the many flaws in continuity. The way used to circumvent some of these errors was the "Multiple Earths" which also showed a chaotic nature that brought even more continuity problems that were not easily explained or were simply left unexplained. Examples of this included, Black Canary of Earth-One being the daughter of the original Black Canary of WWII even though the original Black Canary was a resident of Earth-Two, and the existence of Golden Age comic books on Earth-One and the people not noticing that some of the characters in those comic books existed in "real-life". In addition, many universes had multiple alternate timelines, such as Kamandi and the Legion of Super-Heroes, both being form Earth-One.
Writer Marv Wolfman took this crossover event as an opportunity to reform all the fictional universe of DC Comics to avoid further continuity errors and update the DC characters to modern times. The whole Multiverse is destroyed except for 5 Earths (Silver Age Earth-One, Golden Age Earth-Two, Fawcett Comics Earth S, Quality Comics' Freedom Fighters Earth X and Charlton Comics Earth 4). Later, the universe is recreated as one single universe from those five.
The series removed the concept of the Multiverse in the fictional DC Universe, and depicted the deaths of such long-standing superheroes as Supergirl and the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash. As such, it is one of the most important events in the DC Universe, and continuity in the DCU is typically divided into pre-Crisis and post-Crisis periods.
The story introduces readers to two near-omnipotent beings, the good Monitor and the evil Anti-Monitor, who had been created as a result of the same experiment that created the Multiverse. The Monitor made cameo appearances in various DC comic book series for two years preceding the publication of the series. At first, he appears to be a new supervillain, but with the onset of the Crisis, he is revealed to be working on a desperate plan to save the entire Multiverse from destruction at the hands of the Anti-Monitor. The Crisis series depicts the efforts of DC Comics' superheroes to stop the Anti-Monitor's plan to reign supreme as the ultimate ruler of all. Under the initial guidance of the Monitor, a select group of heroes is assigned to protect massive "tuning forks" designed to merge the surviving Earths into one that could be protected from the antimatter that has already annihilated untold numbers of alternate Earths. Eventually, the conflict grows and nearly every DC hero becomes involved in the battle.
The Monitor is murdered by his own assistant, Harbinger, while one of her duplicates is temporarily possessed by one of the Anti-Monitor's "shadow demons." However, he expects the attack and allows it to happen so that his death will release enough energy to project the last five parallel Earths (the homes of the known DC Universe) into a temporary Limbo universe. In-between, the Anti-Monitor recruits Psycho-Pirate to his cause, (who at the time had not yet been entered into the Limbo universe following the absorption of Earths 1 and 2 into the Limbo universe), and even temporarily infuses part of his power into him to control the other three Earths (4, S, and X). This fails when all five Earths are now inside the Limbo universe.
Eventually, the heroes are captured by the Anti-Monitor, who waited for Alex Luthor to open the portal between the Positive and Anti-Matter universes. The plan was that with their energies so used, Krona would see his hand instead, thereby ensuring victory for the Anti-Monitor (given he expended much of his energy to travel that far back in time). However, the Spectre (supported by Earths' magically powered heroes in the Positive Universe), battles with the Anti-Monitor, thereby creating an energy overload that shatters space and time. A single universe is created and all the superheroes return to a present-day reality where the various elements of the five Earths were fused into one single Earth, with no one except the people present at the dawn of time remembering the original reality. It is never clear whether the multiverse was merged at the instant the heroes went back in time, or whether the multiverse never existed at all.
The now gigantic Anti-Monitor attacks one last time, transporting Earth to the Anti-Matter universe, and summons a massive horde of shadow demons. However, he falls to a carefully planned counter-attack, culminating in a battle with Kal-L (the Earth-Two Superman), Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three, and Superboy of Earth-prime, with some unexpected last-second help from the New Gods' adversary, Darkseid. The Anti-Monitor is increasingly damaged and mangled in this final battle, and is finally just a flaming head. As the Anti-Monitor crashes into a star and dies, Alex sends himself, Earth-Two Superman, Earth-Two Lois Lane, and Earth-Prime Superboy into a paradise reality.
The aftermath of the Crisis plays out a few pages later, including Wally West becoming the new Flash. The final page shows the Psycho-Pirate, who was now imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, talking to himself in a monologue:
"I'm the only one left who remembers the Infinite Earths. You see, I know the truth. I remember all that happened, and I'm not going to forget. Worlds lived, worlds died. Nothing will ever be the same. But those were great days for me... I had a good friend in the good old days, really. He was the Anti-Monitor. He was going to give me a world to rule. Now he's gone, too. But that's okay with me. You see, I like to remember the past because those were better times than now. I mean, I'd rather live in the past than today, wouldn't you? I mean, nothing's ever certain anymore. Nothing's ever predictable like it used to be. These days... y-you just never know who's going to die... and who's going to live."
Roger Hayden (Psycho-Pirate) shows up again in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. He ends up releasing characters destroyed during the Crisis back into the world. Many of these characters come to realize that they are just characters in a comic book. After an intervention by Animal Man, Hayden, seemingly happy, fades away into nothingness due to the strain from releasing all the forgotten characters, removing him from reality and heading into Limbo, where DC characters go when not being written about. James Highwater, a Native American physicist, is left to wear the Medusa Mask and keep the forgotten worlds contained. The other staff members come to accept Highwater as a patient, stymied by the fact that the mask had bonded to his face and required Highwater to be fed introvenously.
Later writers (most notably John Ostrander in Suicide Squad-themed crossover "The Janus Directive") would reveal that Highwater would soon lose the Medusa Mask under mysterious circumstances. Psycho Pirate would not be seen again until after the events of Zero Hour, with his memories of the Crisis apparently erased by the timeline changes made during Zero Hour. However, his memories of the multiple Earths would be restored in Joker's Last Laugh and would be a main plot point in Infinite Crisis.
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! was intended by DC as a belated follow-up to their landmark limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, and was indeed subtitled"(A) Crisis in Time!". It promised to do for the inconsistent future timelines of the DC Universe what Crisis had done for its parallel worlds: unify them into a new one.
he apparent villain of the story presented in the miniseries was a character named Extant, formerly Hawk of the duo Hawk and Dove (and a onetime Teen Titan). Extant had acquired temporal powers, using them to unravel the DC Universe's timeline. In a confrontation with members of the Justice Society of America, Extant aged several of them (removing the effect that had kept these heroes of the 1940s vital into the 1990s), leaving them either feeble or dead. However, the true power behind the destruction of the universe — caused by temporal rifts of entropy — turned out to be Hal Jordan, who had been widely regarded as the most distinguished Green Lantern in history. Calling himself Parallax, Jordan had gone insane, and was now trying to remake the universe, undoing the events which had caused his breakdown and his own murderous actions following it. The collective efforts of the other superheroes managed to stop Jordan/Parallax from imposing his vision of a new universe, and the timeline was recreated anew, albeit with subtle differences compared to the previous one, after the young hero Damage, with help from the other heroes, triggered a new Big Bang. Jordan survived Green Arrow shooting an arrow into his heart though.
In 1997, DC Comics launched a new Justice League series titled JLA, written by Grant Morrison with art by Howard Porter and inker John Dell. Morrison stayed as writer for the series through issue #41, though several issues had fill-in writers. JLA #18-#21 and #33 were written by Mark Waid. Mark Millar, Devin Grayson and Mark Waid, and J.M. DeMatteis wrote issues #27, #32 and #35 respectively
This series, in an attempt at a "back-to-basics" approach, used as its core the team's original and most famous seven members (or their successors): Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), and the Martian Manhunter. Additionally, the team received a new headquarters, the "Watchtower", based on the Moon.
Morrison introduced the idea of the JLA allegorically representing a pantheon of gods, with their different powers and personalities, incorporating such characters as Zauriel, Big Barda, Orion, Huntress, Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Steel (John Henry Irons), and Plastic Man. He also had Aztek, Tomorrow Woman, and Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) as temporaries.
Under Morrison, the series pitted the League against a variety of enemies including White Martians, renegade angels, a new incarnation of the Injustice Gang led by Lex Luthor, and the Key. Other foes were the new villain Prometheus, the existing JLA villain Starro the Conqueror, The Ultra-Marines, and a futuristic Darkseid. Morrison's run culminated in an arc titled World War III which involves the New Gods preparing the Earth for battle against a creature known as Mageddon, a super-sentient weapon of mass destruction.
Since this new League included most of DC's most powerful heroes, the focus of the stories changed. The League now dealt only with Earth-shattering, highest-priority threats which could challenge their tremendous combined power. Enemies faced by this new JLA included an invading army of aliens, a malfunctioning war machine from the future, a horde of renegade angels, a newly reformed coalition of villains as a counter-league, mercenaries armed with individualized take-down strategies for each superhero, various cosmic threats, and the enraged spirit of the Earth itself. In addition, because almost all of the members had their own comics, the stories were almost always self-contained, with all chapters occurring within JLA itself and very rarely affecting events outside of that series. Developments from a hero's own title (such as the new costume and electric based powers temporarily adopted by Superman in 1997–1998) were reflected in the League's comic book, however.
In Jack Kirby's Fourth World books... it's pretty clear that the New Gods have known about Earth for a long time and in JLA ten years ago, I suggested that part of their interest in us was rooted in the fact that Earth was destined to become the cradle of a new race of 'Fifth World' super-divinities — an eventuality Darkseid is eager to prevent from occurring.
It was during that run on JLA that Morrison had Metron deliver a speech outlining the general principles:
"How like little children you appear to me. How small is your comprehension and yet... there is a seed in you... The Old Gods died and gave birth to the New. These New Gods, even such as I, must also pass, in our turn. Our search was long and our war continues, but we found the planetary cradle of the Gods to Come. ... you are only forerunners."
Later, in the JLA storyline World War III, Metron's dialog is more specific: "As New Genesis is to the Fourth World, Earth shall be to the Fifth that is to come."
Sue Dibny, the wife of superhero Elongated Man, is murdered in their apartment, apparently dying of burns (the Elongated Man was at the time on a stakeout, during which a minor character called Bolt is shot and wounded by criminals). The DC superhero community rallies to find the murderer, with villain Doctor Light being the prime suspect. Green Arrow reveals to the Flash (Wally West) and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) that Light once raped Sue Dibny in the JLA satellite headquarters. To ensure this could not happen again, League members at that time — Atom (Ray Palmer), Black Canary, Hawkman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and a very reluctant Flash (Barry Allen) — allowed the sorceress Zatanna to mind-wipe the villain and alter his personality. Green Arrow later confesses that Batman disapproved of the attempted mind-wipe and also had his memory of the incident removed.
The ramifications of this story are depicted in the title Flash, as the hero's Rogues band together at the funeral of Boomerang, a one-shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis, as well as one of its tie-ins, The OMAC Project, and the title JLA, which reveals that Batman remembered the events in question at some point after. Batman's suspicions lead him to create the Brother MK I satellite to monitor superhumans, which is an important factor in the subsequent crossover storyline Infinite Crisis.
In an interview, Grant remarked that this series of stories (which he calls a "megaseries", also known as a metaseries), takes place after Infinite Crisis. Dan DiDio has stated that, after careful consultation with Morrison, the series is now considered to take place a week before Infinite Crisis.
A central part of Morrison's idea for the current series is that, although the seven characters in question are each a part of the same struggle, they never actually meet (although there are references to each other in the various titles). Thus, the team is actually not a team.
After undergoing various trials and tribulations in their own miniseries, the soldiers eventually take part in the climactic battle against the Queen of the Sheeda in New York, each affecting different parts of the battle without having any idea of the larger picture.
I started off in 2002 with the idea to do a JLA spin-off called JL8, which featured a bunch of C-list characters getting together as a DC analogue of the Avengers or Ultimates. Guardian was in from the start as my Captain America guy, Mister Miracle was Thor, the Demon was the Hulk, Zatanna was the Scarlet Witch and so on.... I worked on the material for the next two years to turn it into the Seven Soldiers concept as it finally emerged.
Countdown to Infinite Crisis
DC Countdown, commonly referred to as Countdown to Infinite Crisis, is a one-shot publication and the official start of the Infinite Crisis storyline. It was released 30 March 2005, sold out, and quickly went to a second printing. When this comic was first published, the cover showed Batman holding a shadowed corpse, so as not to ruin the surprise of who dies. For the second printing, the shadows were removed to reveal the identity of the corpse. During initial solicitations the comic was entitled DC Countdown to postpone revelation of an upcoming crisis.
Blue Beetle, investigating the theft of funds from his company that has left him nearly bankrupt, follows the clues to Switzerland where he infiltrates the castle base of the Checkmate organization. There, he confronts Maxwell Lord, who is revealed to be using his Justice League files and Batman's satellite, the Brother MK I, to keep an eye on the superhero community, which he considers a threat to the human race. After Beetle refuses to join Lord, Lord executes him with a fatal gunshot to the head.
Four limited series lead up to DC Comics' Infinite Crisis event. Countdown was bannered as a bridge to all four of the Crisis leadup titles, but featured each of them unevenly. The main plot was essentially an extended prologue to The OMAC Project. The events of Day of Vengeance were foreshadowed, when the Beetle confronted the wizard Shazam, but no particular hints about that title were made. The Rann-Thanagar War was mentioned on a single page, but seemed to already be underway in the story. The main characters of Villains United were featured in a single chapter of the book, but one that did not connect to the Blue Beetle storyline in any way.
- The OMAC Project
The series directly follows the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, picking up the story where the special left off. While the OMACs look similar to the earlier Jack Kirby creation OMAC, they are quite different, with a different acronym than the original One-Man Army Corps. OMAC originally stood for "Observational Meta-human Activity Construct", but currently stands for "Omni Mind And Community."
In the mini-series, the OMACs are modified humans who work as sleeper agents, a product of the Checkmate organization, now led by Maxwell Lord. They possess the Brother Eye spy satellite built by Batman following his realization, after the events of Identity Crisis, that his fellow Justice Leaguers had wiped his memory some years before. The OMAC Project ends with an autonomous Brother Eye having command of over 200,000 OMACs and seemingly planning war on the superheroes, starting with the worldwide broadcast of Maxwell Lord's death at the hands of Wonder Woman.
Superman: Sacrifice occurs in the middle of the OMAC project (and though the collection is a separate TPB, the final issue of Sacrifice is collected in the OMAC TPB). In Superman: Sacrifice, Superman is mind controlled by Maxwell Lord into seeing his closest friends as his greatest enemies, and Wonder Woman must stop him. An epic battle ensues, with Wonder Woman having to slice Superman's throat with her tiara to slow him down. Max Lord gives Wonder Woman an ultimatum; he'll relinquish control this time, but can and will do it time and time again, or, to stop it indefinitely, kill him. Wonder Woman then proceeds to do just that, breaking Lord's neck. This action leads on to the whole world seeing Wonder Woman in an entirely different light, and brings about the end of the Justice League, until after Infinite Crisis.
In 2005, a story arc by Geoff Johns and Alan Heinberg called Crisis of Conscience (JLA #115–119) depicts the dissolution of the Justice League of America as the breakdown of trust shown in the 2004 limited series Identity Crisis reaches its zenith. At the end of the arc, Superboy-Prime destroys the Justice League Watchtower.
- Villains United
This story follows the evolution of the latest incarnation of the Secret Six, and the group's ongoing plight against the machinations of the various supervillains belonging to Lex Luthor's expansive Secret Society of Super Villains.
- Day of Vengeance
It focuses on the Spectre and other magical beings of the DC Universe, especially a hastily formed group known as the Shadowpact.
- Rann/Thanagar War
The series concerns a war between the planets Rann and Thanagar, and features Adam Strange, the Green Lantern Corps, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, L.E.G.I.O.N. and Captain Comet, along with other DC space adventurers.
Infinite Crisis Secret Files and Origins
In a hidden away cave, Alexander Luthor meditates, realizing his once-lost Anti-Matter powers are slowly returning. He has comes to hate the paradise he saved himself, Superboy-Prime, Kal-L and Lois Lane-Kent in and muses that he'd go mad in there. Elsewhere, Kal-L has recreated the Daily Star building, attempting to help Lois recover when Superboy bursts in, wishing to talk. When Kal-L refuses, Lois chides him. Superboy confides that he's angry all the time and Kal-L reassures him that he's just homesick, but there's nothing they can do to change it.
Alex recruites an angry and frustrated Superboy to help him with his plans of escape and more. Superboy punches through the wall that surrounds their "Paradise", breaking it and unleashing a shockwave that alters reality, affecting Lois in the process. Superboy tells Alex he wants to save them all and Alex reveals that he has his Anti-Matter powers once again. Empowering Superboy, he bursts through to the other Earth, where he's spotted by Ted Kord, but ignores him.
At the end, Alex sets his plans into motion, creating the Society, taking control of Brother Eye and the OMACs and having Superboy obtain the Eclipso diamond and initiate an interplanetary war, all in the name of creating the perfect Earth...
Superboy-Prime's attempts to punch his way out of the extradimensional space in which he had been trapped since the Crisis on Infinite Earths, along with Kal-L, Lois Lane (both of Earth-Two), and Alexander Luthor, Jr. (of Earth-Three), triggered "ripples" in the fabric of reality, causing events in the present to become undone and replaced by different versions of events. These changes were different for each person affected. Changes include:
- Jason Todd restored to life, even though everyone remembers his death.
- Elasti-Girl and Negative Man of the Doom Patrol restored to life, the Chief restored to his original body and the team's history rebooted. The team eventually remembered its original history.
- The various interpretations of the origin of Superman are streamlined into one.
- The various incarnations of Hawkman.
- The various incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes since Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- The various origins of Donna Troy.
- The multiple origins of the Metal Men.
- Hal Jordan has never been an ex-con who served 90 days in prison for drunk driving.
For a longtime, [DC] said [Son of the Demon] was out of continuity. Now it's just kind of out of continuity. I didn't actually read it before I started writing this. I messed up a lot of the details, like Batman wasn't drugged when he was having sex with Talia and it didn't take place in the desert. I was relying on shaky memories. But now we have this new "Superboy punch" continuity [after Superboy Prime attacked the fabric of the universe during Infinite Crisis]. People still don't realize how important that single punch was to cover everyone's ass.
The series storyline was a sequel to DC's 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths. It revisited characters and concepts from that earlier Crisis, including the existence of DC's Multiverse. Some of the characters featured were alternate versions of comic icons such as an alternate Superman named Kal-L, who came from a parallel universe called Earth-Two. A major theme was the nature of heroism, contrasting the often dark and conflicted modern-day heroes with memories of "lighter" and ostensibly more noble and collegial heroes of American comic books' earlier days.
The story begins in the wake of the four lead-in limited series, with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman feuding, the JLA Watchtower destroyed, and the heroes of the world all facing a variety of menaces. Over this backdrop, Kal-L (the Superman of pre-Crisis Earth-Two), the Superboy of Earth Prime, Alexander Luthor, Jr. of pre-Crisis Earth-Three, and Lois Lane Kent of pre-Crisis Earth-Two escape from the pocket universe, "paradise", where they had been left at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In Infinite Crisis #4, the Secret Society of Super Villains drops Chemo, a gigantic, semi-intelligent pile of chemicals, on the city, causing a devastating explosion and toxic chemical fallout. The city is destroyed. Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin survive, since all were out of the city at the time of the attack, but the fates of other Blüdhaven-based heroes such as Tarantula are unknown. In Adventures of Superman #648, official sources set the resulting death toll from Chemo's assault on Blüdhaven at 100,068.
The infinite Earths, which had collapsed into a single world during Crisis on Infinite Earths, diverged again into multiple Earths during Infinite Crisis only to collapse back into a single "New Earth" with a slightly altered history. Examples of the revised history include:
- Joe Chill being arrested for the murder of Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne, Batman's parents.
- Rumors of Superman being active before he first appeared in Metropolis.
- Wonder Woman is a founding member of the Justice League.
- The Justice Society members' memories of the Golden Age Superman are rekindled.
- The various versions of General Zod are replaced by a single version.
52 consists of 52 issues, published weekly for one year, each issue detailing an actual week chronicling the events that took place during the missing year (see entry for One Year Later) after the end of Infinite Crisis. The series covers much of the DC Universe, and several characters whose disparate stories interconnect. The story is directly followed by the weekly limited series Countdown to Final Crisis.
In the aftermath of Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have temporarily retired their costumed identities, and the remaining heroes attend a memorial for Superboy in Metropolis. Time traveler Booster Gold attends the memorial, but when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do not arrive as he expects, he suspects his robot sidekick Skeets is malfunctioning. After Skeets reports other incorrect historical data, Booster searches fellow time traveler Rip Hunter's desert bunker for answers, but finds it littered with enigmatic scrawled notes and photos of himself and Skeets surrounded by the words "his fault" with arrows pointing toward them. Booster's reputation is ruined by his unscrupulous attempts to maintain his corporate sponsorships, as well as the arrival of a mysterious new superhero named Supernova. Booster tries to regain the spotlight by containing an exploding nuclear submarine, but is seemingly killed in the attempt. Skeets uses Booster's ancestor Daniel Carter to regain access to Hunter's lab, where he sees the photos and arrows pointing at Skeets himself. Realizing that Hunter is aware of his plan, Skeets traps Carter in a time loop in the bunker and sets out to locate Hunter himself. He eventually corners Hunter and Supernova in the bottle-city of Kandor, where Supernova reveals himself to be Booster Gold, having faked his death with the help of Hunter to uncover Skeets' true intentions. Hunter and Booster attempt to trap Skeets in the Phantom Zone, but Skeets appears to consume the sub-dimension and pursues his two adversaries through time.
Skeets is revealed to be Mister Mind, who has been using Skeets' metallic body as a cocoon to metamorphose into a gigantic, monstrous form that feeds on time itself. Rip Hunter and Booster escape to the end of the Infinite Crisis, where they witness the secret creation of 52 identical parallel universes, which Mister Mind intends to consume. Daniel Carter reappears as the new Supernova and saves Hunter and Booster, restoring the Phantom Zone in the process. Mister Mind alters events in the 52 universes, creating new histories and a new status quo for each. Booster and Supernova trap Mister Mind in the remains of Skeets' shell and send him back in time to the beginning of the year, where he is captured by Dr. Sivana, trapped in a time loop for all eternity. Hunter, Booster, and Supernova agree to keep the restored multiverse's existence a secret, and Will Magnus rebuilds Skeets, using a copy he had made of the robot's memories.
I'm not sure. I feel as if it was already implicit in the story and it just took me to point it out. Why else was Mister Mind depicted watching TV in issue #2? Based on that alone, he had to be the big bad and Skeets had to be involved, mostly because Mister Mind fits so nicely inside that little robot shell. It added some extra drama and made the big ending possible, although I originally wanted Mister Mind to metamorphose into a goofy-looking little butterfly wearing glasses. I thought it would be scarier if this tiny, supremely evil creature could do absolutely anything but I was overruled on the grounds that our lead characters wouldn't look very cool running from an angry Red Admiral with a two-inch wingspan.
The year-long weekly maxi-series 52 (2006–2007) led to the reveal that Multiverse still exists, in the form of 52 alternate universes. Author Grant Morrison mentioned in an interview that the return of the Multiverse was intended to launch new franchises, explaining:
The parallel Earths you see in issue #52 are not the familiar pre-Crisis versions. If you think you recognize and know any of these worlds from before, you'd be wrong. We all wanted to do something new with the multiple Earths so what you've already seen in 52 is simply the tip of the iceberg – each parallel world now has its own huge new backstory and characters and each could basically form the foundation for a complete line of new books. If you like the ongoing soap opera dynamics of New Earth, you can watch Mary Marvel turning to the dark side as her skirt gets shorter and shorter, or you can buy the Earth 5 line of books featuring more iconic versions of the Marvel Family. If you miss Vic Sage as the Question, you should be able to follow the adventures of Vic's counterpart on the Charlton/Watchmen world of Earth 4. The idea behind the Megaverse is to basically create a number of big new franchise possibilities. It's like having several comics companies and universes under one umbrella, so, as I say, there could be one book or a whole line of books spinning out of the new Earth 10 (I handled that particular revamp, so I can tell you that the original concept of the Freedom Fighters on a world where the Nazis won World War 2 has been greatly reconsidered, expanded and intensified into something that's a bit more Wagnerian and apocalyptic and a bit more adult) That's how I'd like to see the Megaverse played out as we move forward. And no crossovers! Each of the parallel universes should exist in its own separate stream with no contact from the others – not until we have a story worthy of bringing them together.
Week 50 of 52 and the four-issue JLA: World War III limited series (similarly named but not the Grant Morrison series), which was released the same week, depict the superhumans' battle with Black Adam. World War III also depicts Aquaman's transformation into the Dweller of the Depths, Martian Manhunter's change in outlook, Donna Troy's assumption of the Wonder Woman mantle, Supergirl's return to the 21st century, Jason Todd pretending to be Nightwing, and Cassandra Cain turning evil and joining Deathstroke.
From their satellite base, the Monitors declare the end of World War III, intended as the war of one man (Black Adam) against the whole world, but they do express fear for an even darker event looming over Earth.
Dan DiDio included a hidden message in his "DC Nation" column in the back of Week 37. The message is spelled out using the first letter of every third word: "the secret of fifty-two is that the multiverse still exists".
It blew what should have been a thrilling reveal to end the series but what can you do? Fortunately no lives were lost as a consequence of Dan's rash decision.
One Year Later
Following the events of the limited series crossover Infinite Crisis, every DC comic series jumped ahead in-story by one year. The events of the missing year were depicted in real time in the weekly comic book series 52. The One Year Later event started in March 2006, starting the same week that Infinite Crisis #5 went to press, and before the first issue of 52. Most first issues bearing the One Year Later logo were the first parts of multi-issue storylines, and featured major changes to the status quo of each character, often intentionally left unexplained as these details would be filled in by the remaining issues of Infinite Crisis and the 52 series.
Numerous prominent heroes were missing or inactive for most of the year as the One Year Later issues commenced. Heroes known to have been gone for the missing year were Aquaman, Batman, Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Nightwing, Robin, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The Flash has been missing, but Jay Garrick had been protecting Keystone City in his absence.
The year-long absence of the three most prominent superheroes of the DC Comics universe — Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — and their return to active duty was a significant part of both the One Year Later series and 52 series.
DCU: Brave New World
DCU: Brave New World is an 80-page special comic book showcasing six of the planned new titles: Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, OMAC, Martian Manhunter, Trials of Shazam!, The All-New Atom, and The Creeper.
One of the Monitors appears in shadow on the cover of the DCU: Brave New World Special; the first few pages show the Monitors' satellite appearing over New Earth. In the final pages of the comic, five Monitors are revealed, one of whom calls the group "the Monitors." One of the five is noticeably different from the others; although his back is turned, he resembles the Anti-Monitor. This Monitor is later shown in Supergirl to only dress like the Anti-Monitor. In Ion #9, the Monitors are shown to be a society of many different Monitors. There are 52 in total, one from each of the new universes. In Countdown to Final Crisis #48, when a large group of Monitors gather together, it is shown that each of them is physically different from the others in at least a small way. The most extreme example, apart from the one dressed like the Anti-Monitor, is one who appears to be a humanoid giraffe, suggesting he is the Monitor of a modern equivalent of Captain Carrot's Earth-26.
Death of the New Gods
Death of the New Gods was conceived by DC as a series that would lead- and tie-in to Final Crisis, much like Countdown to Final Crisis.
Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form... instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur.
I sort of think of this project as putting an ending to Jack's New Gods saga. Since Kirby's initial run on the characters, others have presented them with mixed results. Looking back I'd say at least half of the past New Gods series have done more harm than good. So for me, Death of the New Gods is half honoring Jack Kirby, half mercy killing.
Obviously, I would have preferred it if the New Gods hadn't been spotlighted at all, let alone quite so intensively before I got a chance to bring them back but I don't run DC and don't make the decisions as to how and where the characters are deployed.
The series begins with Darkseid recalling how he first became aware of a growing crisis with the death of Willie Walker. Walker, who is the corporeal form of the Black Racer, is seen being killed by an unidentified figure who tears out his heart; the same fate that had met all the other New Gods who were killed.
Dan DiDio knew I wanted to delve deeper into the mythology of Jack Kirby's New Gods as I'd adapted it for my Seven Soldiers series, so we talked about doing a big project that would put the New Gods back on the map.
Metron speaks to the glowing ball of light, which reveals itself as the Source and the cause of the death of the New Gods. Long ago, the Source was attacked by the Old Gods and split into two, light and dark. The light side recovered and brought about the Death of the Old Gods, and then attempted to recreate existence, but could only manage to make the flawed Fourth World due to its imperfection. It attempted to reunite with its darker part, but was delayed by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which unified alternate realities and created an impenetrable Source Wall. The Source then orchestrated the events of Infinite Crisis, apparently subtly manipulating Alexander Luthor, and later the events of 52 to bring back the Multiverse, and freeing its dark half, which had taken the form of the Anti-Life Entity. The Source thus reveals that it is now using an agent to eliminate the Fourth World in order to bring about the Fifth World, which will be perfect. The Source agrees to Metron's request that he be allowed to witness the end of the Fourth World.
The reunited Source reveals how Miracle's beliefs were not of its doing. Miracle, feeling manipulated and betrayed by the Source, requests to be killed and he is. Disgusted at the Source's ruthless treatment of its most loyal follower, Metron demands to be killed as well and The Source grants Metron's request. The Source travels to Apokolips to engage the last New God, Darkseid, who has taken a serum giving him access to the power of the Anti-Life portion of the Source.
The Source and Darkseid battle as Superman watches. Darkseid reveals that the Source's plan was to wipe out the New Gods and create the Fifth World. The Source then releases Orion's ghost to attack Darkseid, who flees. The Source merges New Genesis and Apokolips into one planet to create the Fifth World. Superman witnesses all of this and returns home.
It's the advent of the Fifth World... I think we've telegraphed so much that the New Gods are coming upon a rebirth, and the story that we're telling with them now is a continuation of the story that was established when Kirby first conceived the concept. Talk about death — Kirby blew up worlds at the start of the series. The story started with, 'The Old Gods Died!' which made room for the New Gods — we're picking up that thread and launching the DCU into the future.
Countdown to Final Crisis
The series follows the success of 52, which, in contrast, did not cross over with DC's other regular titles. 52 concluded with the revelation that the Multiverse (a storytelling device which posits the existence of alternative realities) exists, and which now serves as a backdrop to several stories in Countdown. Beginning with issue #26, the series trade dress was reworked to identify the series as Countdown to Final Crisis, The stories taking place in Countdown set the stage for the approaching Final Crisis limited series.
Countdown to Final Crisis was originally intended to run from issues #51-0, with issue 0 serving as the prologue to the Final Crisis limited series. Instead, it was decided that Countdown would conclude with issue #1 and the #0 issue was retitled to DC Universe #0. DC Universe #0 was co-written by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns and served as a summary of recent events within the DC Universe in order to attract new readers before the company launched the Final Crisis limited series.
While the book was billed as leading up to the beginning of DC's Final Crisis limited series, it later emerged that the plotlines in Countdown had diverged from what was written for Final Crisis, leading to continuity problems between the two books, as noted by Final Crisis author Grant Morrison. Much of the comic has subsequently been retconned out of continuity, along with Death of the New Gods. Jimmy Olsen learning Superman's identity, the battle between him and Darkseid, and other such events have been ignored following the conclusion of the series. During a DC Nation panel at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, DC Editor-in-Chief Dan DiDio invited fans to give their own opinions on "what went wrong" with Countdown. DiDio had reportedly described the series (prior to its release) as "52 done right."
They started building Countdown around Death of the New Gods because it was way ahead of everybody else. They started catching up with me, and I'm having to change my ending to adjust to what they're doing in Countdown. Up until now, I've been telling everybody I'm killing them all. One survives. And he was going to have a good death. I had to keep him around until the end.
When we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point.
When the tower that Alexander Luthor used to recreate the original Multiverse during the events of Infinite Crisis was destroyed, a "seed programming" was activated that created a Monitor for each of the 52 Earths of the new Multiverse born in that moment. Since this new Multiverse consisted of 52 identical Earths at the time of its forming, all 52 Monitors would have been identical. However, following the events of 52, the Monitors began to evolve and acquire increasingly divergent identities in physicality and disposition. As the Monitors evolved, their story became more complex, a "self-assembling hyper story".
In Countdown to Final Crisis, one of the storylines follows the Monitors in their headquarters. One Monitor has taken it upon himself to eradicate inconsistencies within the universes, characters such as Duela Dent, whom he kills. At first, the other 51 Monitors are more devoted to merely watching the multiverse and intervening only when truly necessary. Throughout the Countdown, each of the Monitors begins to develop disparate personalities and physical characteristics which reflect (to some extent) the nature of their universe and each Monitor takes a name for themselves. In Final Crisis, one Monitor reflects that this is because interaction with the worlds of the Multiverse has allowed time itself: beginnings and endings, to enter their haven. Notably, Rox Ogama, disciple of the Dark Monitor, Mandrakk, is charged to look after the universe of Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, in which Batman also becomes a vampire.
The Monitors begin to debate over being reactive and proactive regarding the world jumpers and death cheaters. The proactive Monitor (in favor of killing the anomalies), manages to sway sentiment towards his side. He dispatches a Forerunner, a member of an experimental race of warriors bred by the Monitors, to kill Jason Todd and Donna Troy. They are stopped by one of the reactive Monitors only because the Forerunners must obey a Monitor due to their genetic breeding. The reactive Monitor, Jason Todd, and Donna Troy meet with current Atom Ryan Choi to search for Ray Palmer in the Nanoverse (or "Palmerverse"). Here, Donna Troy realizes that, while this Monitor has done so much for the Multiverse already, no one knows his name. The Monitor claims to not have a name, and Jason Todd takes it upon himself to name him "Bob." When the Challengers find Ray Palmer, Bob reveals his acts of assistance to be a ruse, and attempts to kill Palmer. After Palmer and the Challengers escape, Bob is confronted by his fellow Monitors. Solomon attempts to absorb Bob into his being, but ends up killing him instead.
Interestingly, it is this Monitor of New Earth who bears the closest resemblance to the original Monitor, that world being the combined total of all the universes the original Monitor watched over.
Monitor of Earth 8. As a result of Bob's actions, the other Monitors take a more aggressive approach to maintaining the multiverse. Seeing it as a necessity under the circumstances, they all take on names as Bob has. Rallying behind the Monitor of Earth-8, now calling himself Solomon, they begin to fear that it is not only the anomalies that they must face, but also the virus infecting Karate Kid, Monarch's growing army, whoever is responsible for Jimmy Olsen's powers, and the possibility that a single individual may be behind all of these events. With the help of a female monitor, Solomon convinces the others to prepare for war. After Solomon's attempt to absorb Bob, the other Monitors voice their disapproval. Solomon reveals that he planned to join with his fellow Monitors and become the Source. The Monitors are then interrupted by Monarch. As the Monitors battle his army, Monarch reveals to Solomon that his actions were the catalyst to the creation of his army. Solomon, greatly distressed, flees to the Monitor satellite, where he is snubbed by the remaining Monitors. Solomon is then approached by Superman-Prime. Solomon tells Prime that Monarch is destroying the perfect universe, and Prime flies off to fight him. Darkseid then appears and offers Solomon assistance. They go to Apokolips, where they watch events unfold. While the planet is assimilated by Brother Eye, and a large part of it is destroyed by Pied Piper, Darkseid reveals that it was Solomon who attacked Captain Atom in Blüdhaven, triggering his transformation into Monarch. When Darkseid reveals his plans to control the Fifth World, Solomon appears to the heroes still on Apokolips, warning them of the danger, and teleporting them back to Earth. It is later revealed that the Earth he sent them to was the reconstituted Earth-51, as a way of stopping part of Darkseid's plan. Solomon is then seen on the Monitors' satellite, patiently awaiting Darkseid's next move.
Monitor of Earth-51, Nix Uotan is the "youngest" of all the Monitors. He is first seen at the beginning of Countdown to Final Crisis, a nameless Monitor with only minimal distinguishing features, seeking guidance at the Source Wall regarding the rising tensions in the Multiverse. Being informed by the Source that the "Great Disaster" — a long-foretold event that would herald the end of the Monitor race — is approaching and that only Ray Palmer can stop it, he determines to keep Palmer's presence on his world a secret from his brethren. He is next seen on Earth-12, where he confronts Bob in an attempt to stop his efforts to find Ray Palmer, who is "living a life of no consequence" in the relative safety of his own assigned world. When the Challengers (Donna, Jason, and Kyle) are brought to Earth-51, at last finding Ray Palmer there, Bob and Solomon bring the Monitors to this Earth in hopes of destroying Palmer. The Monarch uses this opportunity to put his Multiversal army at war against the Monitors, a war that ultimately lays nuclear waste to all of Earth-51. Nix Uotan sends the Challengers to Apokolips to confront Darkseid; he is left alone in his desolate universe, and begins its rebirth. After events on Apokolips, the Challengers are sent to the reborn Earth-51 by Solomon, infecting it with Karate Kid's Morticoccus virus, and causing the "Great Disaster", thus destroying that world a second time. In the final issue of Countdown to Final Crisis, the Challengers (now Donna, Kyle, Ray, and Forager) confront the Monitors with the promise they will be watching them and protecting the Multiverse; Nix Uotan defends their choice, and joins their ranks in a reconstituted group of Challengers.
In Issue #2 of Countdown, as prophesied, Orion returns to Earth via Boom Tube for his final battle with Darkseid. During the massive fight, Orion ultimately kills him by ripping his heart out, creating a firepit of Apokolips from Darkseid's chest cavity (in reference to the prophecy of their final battle). As Darkseid dies, a battered, wounded Orion walks away from the battlefield having "won" the battle against his father once and for all.
After Darkseid's death, Solomon creates a small monument to him on the Source Wall, and patiently begins planning anew.
DC Universe #0
Final Crisis was preceded by Countdown, a year-long weekly series which was meant as a follow-up to 52. Halfway through, the series was renamed Countdown to Final Crisis. However, the artwork met with delays. To keep the release on schedule, Countdown wrapped with issue #1 and its planned final issue (#0) was revamped as a 50 cent one-shot special called DC Universe #0.
Twenty-three years after his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen's essence made a return to the present DC Universe proper in DC Universe #0, preceding his full-time return in the pages of writer Grant Morrison's Final Crisis.
DC Universe #0 features an unnamed narrator who initially associates himself with "everything". As the story progresses, he begins to recall his past and association with Justice League members, particularly Hal Jordan and Superman. The lettering in which he speaks to the reader is yellow on backgrounds that are initially black. As the story moves forward, the background slowly begins turning red. In the final pages, the narration boxes feature a yellow lightning bolt. Over time, as he recalls friendships and connections with other people, his mind begins to narrow, remarking "I...know him. I am no longer everything. I am a shaft of light split through a prism". Yet he is still the only one able to see "the shadow falling over everything", in the form of Darkseid. On the final page, the moon appears in front of a red sky, as a yellow lightning bolt strikes diagonally in front of it creating the logo of the Flash, as he remarks "and now I remember". The title of the story is revealed to be "Let There Be Lightning."
A Daily News story released on the same day proclaimed that Barry Allen has returned to life, with issue co-writer Geoff Johns stating:
When the greatest evil comes back to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return.
Besides hyping upcoming storylines such as Batman R.I.P. and Blackest Night, the issue was narrated by Barry Allen and featured Libra leading a group of super-villains in prayer for the "god of evil", Darkseid.
As we'll learn, when we see Darkseid's "Fall" from the world of the New Gods - as depicted in DCU #0 - he's falling backwards through time. In DCU #0 we're watching him fall back through the present, into the past of Seven Soldiers where he finally comes to rest in the body of "Boss Dark Side", the gangster from that story. The implication is that Darkseid has been consolidating his power base on Earth, in a human body, since at least the time of Infinite Crisis. Only Shilo Norman AKA Mister Miracle has any real idea what's going on but he's seen as a crazy-ass showbiz loon who's had a bizarre quasi-religious experience, so no-one takes him entirely seriously.
DC Universe #0 shed some light on the potential plot of the series, with a scene between Batman and the Joker written as a prelude to the upcoming storyline. In the sequence, Batman confronts the Joker about the mysterious "Black Glove," villain(s) who were behind the attempt to kill Batman during Morrison's The Black Glove (International Club of Heroes) arc in Batman #667-669. The Joker, nonchalantly dealing out a "dead man's hand" from a deck of cards, taunts Batman regarding his fear of the mystery villain and how the Black Glove intends on destroying him.
A portion of the storyline runs through Batman #682-683, and is intertwined with Final Crisis, in which Batman is Bruce Wayne. Writer Grant Morrison, in regards to the chronology of R.I.P. and Final Crisis (because they were both being published simultaneously), stated:
First it's 'R.I.P.'. Then the two-parter (#682-683) goes through Batman's whole career, in a big summing up of everything that also ties and leads directly into Final Crisis. (Final Crisis #5 is where 'R.I.P.' resumes.), and the final fate of Batman (Final Crisis #6).
Batman #683 reveals that Batman survives the explosion and returns to the Batcave to examine the gathered evidence on the Black Glove. However, the events of Final Crisis draw his attention elsewhere. The events between R.I.P. and Final Crisis are covered in greater detail in Batman #701 and #702, which are presented as a missing chapter of R.I.P.
Promotion about the limited series describes its story as "the day evil won". The series deals with alien villain Darkseid's plot to overthrow reality, and the subsequent death and corruption of various DC characters and their universe.
Following the final battle of the New Gods, the spirit of the lord of evil, Darkseid, tumbles through time itself, coming to rest on Earth, where it, along with the spirits of the other evil gods of Apokolips, manifests itself in the body of a human being. Darkseid's "fall" has sundered reality, creating a singularity at the heart of creation, into which all of space and time are slowly being drawn, setting the stage for the evil god's final victory, to be claimed in his inevitable death. Through his agent Libra, he arranges for a huge army of super villains to be gathered, who capture and murder the Martian Manhunter as the opening salvo of the conflict. Coinciding with the Manhunter's death is the arrival on Earth of Nix Uotan, an exiled member of the cosmic Monitors, who has been sentenced to become human as punishment for failure in his duties.
Libra came from my favorite ever run of 'Justice League of America' and he's never been used again. He was a character who had stolen all the powers of the Justice League, but then couldn't handle it and ascended to some kind of screaming godhood where he became a million transparent body parts spread across the sky. So I thought if I was doing a thing about the New Gods, he'd be an interesting guy to bring back because I needed a masked mystery man to start a new recruitment drive for the Secret Society of Supervillains, because they become almost a terrorist sect. Under Libra's guidance, they start doing quite bad things, even to superheroes' wives and families, crossing the line. So there's that element to the story and I needed a masked guy, who people didn't really know that well. And I remembered Libra and the fact that he is connected to this ascending to godhood thing tied him in really quite nicely. What's really going on under the hood will be revealed later in the series.
Darkseid also arranges for detective Dan Turpin to be lured into the Dark Side Club, where Turpin is turned into Darkseid's "final host", as his Boss Dark Side body has begun to mummify due to Darkseid's foul astral presence. With his legion of followers and allies aiding him as he undergoes his latest "rebirth", Darkseid successfully conquers the Earth with the unleashing of the Anti-Life Equation onto mankind. However, the rebirthing process is still far from complete as Dan Turpin's mind and soul, while corrupted by Darkseid's essence, still remains in firm control over his body. However, at the same moment Shilo Norman, the "Embodiment of Freedom" is shot by S.H.A.D.E. operatives, thus signaling the "Victory of Evil". Darkseid wins control over Turpin's body, now twisted in a close copy of his Apokoliptan former appearance, and wearing an updated version of his battle armor. Darkseid then gains the fullest of his power, his "fall" having the effect of compressing and crumpling space-time around Earth.
After escaping from captivity, Batman shoots Darkseid with the same radion bullet that killed Orion, while Darkseid simultaneously hits Batman with the Omega Sanction, sending back in time and then "infecting" Batman with Omega energy that will cause him to jump forward in time, with disastrous results when he reaches the present. Darkseid is mortally wounded, but not before his Omega Sanction teleports Batman into prehistoric times. Remains believed to be Batman's (later revealed to be the last of the many Batman clones that Darkseid created) are found by Superman, who confronts Darkseid. As Darkseid mocks his old enemy for failing to defend Earth, it emerges that in Darkseid's fall through the multiverse, he created a doomsday singularity that now threatens all of existence. When Superman attempts to physically assault him, Darkseid reveals that he now exists inside the bodies of all those who fell to the power of the Anti-Life Equation and that killing Darkseid will kill humanity. Darkseid then reloads the gun that was used to shoot him, to kill Orion by way of firing the bullet backwards in time (a move Superman deems to be suicide due to the paradoxical nature of his actions: the bullet used to kill Orion is ultimately fired at him by Batman and is now poisoning him to death).
I don't think you need to know anything about New Genesis or any other information apart from what's in the story. Darkseid wasn't shot in the heart. We all know Batman doesn't kill people, hasn't killed people for 70 years and isn't about to start here. It's a big enough deal for Batman to pick up a gun. He winged Turpin knowing that the Radion in the bullet would be enough to poison Darkseid's divine essence. Radion only kills gods after all. It slays ideas. After that shot, Darkseid is dying, just as someone with radiation poisoning might slowly expire, as Superman explains in #7. The Black Racer drags him struggling away into oblivion over the course of that issue until nothing remains but the fading, ghost-echoes of his malice.
Darkseid started falling through the universe after the event we experienced as The Death of The New Gods. He fell backwards through time and wound up in a human body, on Earth, in the Mister Miracle series back in 2005.
Before Darkseid can use the Omega Effect to kill Superman, Barry Allen and Wally West lead the Black Racer to Darkseid and contact with him frees Turpin from Darkseid's control. Wonder Woman (having been freed from possession by one of Darkseid's minions) then uses her lasso of truth to bind Darkseid's spirit form, effectively freeing humanity from the Anti-Life Equation and being controlled by Darkseid. In his final effort, Darkseid's disembodied essence appears and tries to seize the Miracle Machine Superman has created; however, Superman uses counter-vibrations to destroy him. Furthermore, the last piece of Darkseid's plan fails when Batman, thanks to the actions of the new Batman (Dick Grayson), Red Robin (Tim Drake), Robin (Damian Wayne) and the Justice League, is able to return safely to the present, consuming the Omega Energy in his body without damaging the time-stream further, thus becoming the second individual, along with Mister Miracle, to escape the Omega Sanction.
A lot of people just thought, where the hell did this come from? To me, I think this is the prime basis of the DC Universe, that it's made of vibrations, so if you want to change anything then you have to change it with a simple song. Most people thought it was insane when Superman sings and saves the day, but for me, it came from the very root of how the DC Universe is.
Doctor Impossible later manipulates the Crime Syndicate of America into helping him resurrect Darkseid via a machine that draws energy from the Multiverse itself. The resurrection backfires, and instead creates a new being known as the Omega Man.
While many of the Gods from New Genesis were reborn following Final Crisis, Orion is not among them. Metron is seen standing over his astro-harness in effigy.
At the start of Final Crisis, Nix Uotan is punished for failing to protect Earth-51 from destruction and is banished into the Multiverse by the other Monitors; he awakes as a human on New Earth. Having only partial memories of his past, he begins searching for his "word of attention," a word that he believes will return him home. After Darkseid spreads the Anti-Life Equation to the Earth, he is captured by Darkseid's forces for being, apparently, immune to Anti-Life. There a man with hairy, dexterous fingers in the corner makes him remember his Monitor love, Weeja Dell, Monitrix of Earth-6 (Weeja Dell's name is derived from that of Marvel Comic's Shalla-Bal, lost love of the Silver Surfer). When the Justifiers come to get him, another man (Metron) in the room solves a Rubik's Cube in 17 moves (ostensibly one less than the smallest possible number of moves necessary to solve any Rubik's Cube), and then emits a burst of blue light. After that it is shown that Nix has apparently received new powers as a Multiversal Monitor of the Fifth World, with monitors around his head showing the events that are happening across the Multiverse. "The Judge of All Evil" confronts Mandrakk in "the black hole at the base of creation" with an army of Supermen recruited from across the Multiverse that is reinforced by Uotan restoring the Zoo Crew (then trapped as ordinary animals) by returning their humanity, costumes and powers, and restores Earth-51 before the world of the Monitors comes to an end. At the end of Final Crisis, it is revealed that Nix Uotan is actually the son of Mandrakk.
In the end, the world of the Monitors is destroyed, as Nix Uotan holds Weeja Dell, telling her that Superman's wish was "for a happy ending". Nix Uotan is once again reborn as a human in Metropolis, which during recent interviews with Grant Morrison state he is now the lone Monitor retained by the Over Monitor to maintain his function.
Uotan's name, pronounced "Wotan", is derived from the name of the Norse God of Writing, Wotan, who similarly underwent great trials in order to be reborn as a purer, wiser being.
Dax Novu is known initially as The Radiant One, the first son of the limitless Monitor, who first mapped the Multiverse (It is not made clear whether he is the same being as the original, nameless "Monitor" of Crisis on Infinite Earths, or the original "probe" created by the Overmonitor intelligence to explore the Multiverse). After becoming steadily more corrupted by exposure to Bleed and the stories within the Multiverse, Novu created a thought-robot in the shape of Superman as protection against the foretold foe of the Monitors, Mandrakk, and a tomb for that foe which would not open until a Doomsday clock mounted on its doors reached zero, at the same moment as the Superman Thought-Robot became active. He then entered the tomb and allegedly "Gave His Life To Chain The Beast In Darkness".
Superman Beyond #2 revealed the false nature of this last detail: Dax Novu was in fact transformed into Mandrakk by his corruption, and sealed away for revealing to the other Monitors that they were all, similarly, vampires surviving on the life-force of the multiverse. As Mandrakk, he became a vampire Monitor, desiring to feed on the "Bleed," the lifeblood of the cosmos in which all 52 universes are suspended, until nothing remained except him. The Dax Novu version of Mandrakk is defeated by Superman on the World of Nil, eventually being consumed by the Over Monitor void. However, after its 'Brother' and disciple, Rox Ogama, is banished to the Limbo world, Ogama corrupts the Ultraman of the Anti-Matter universe to become his "Vampire Superman," while transforming to become the new incarnation of Mandrakk.
In "Final Crisis" #7, this new incarnation of Mandrakk awaits Superman at the destruction of the Multiverse by Darkseid; however, the newly reborn "Judge of All Evil", Nix Uotan, assembles an army of the various Supermen of the Multiverse - as well as others - to defeat him. As the various incarnations of Superman all derive their power from sunlight - toxic to vampires - their very presence weakens Mandrakk, causing him to burst into flame and thus be susceptible to a blow from a stake created by a squad of Green Lanterns. In this 'last stand', Mandrakk/Rox Ogama reveals that Nix Uotan is in fact his son with Zillo Valla, a fact which Uotan admits, concluding that only Mandrakk's son could be Mandrakk's killer.
In the end, the revised origin of the Monitors took this form: in the beginning, a gigantic vast intelligence named Monitor, but referred to in places as "Overmonitor" or "Overvoid", discovered the Bleed and the Multiverse within, a 'flaw' at its heart. Disturbed, it sent out a probe in a similar form to that of the original "Monitor" from Crisis on Infinite Earths that fed back the chaos of every story of the Infinite Earths all at once; overwhelmed by the very idea of a "story," the Monitor recalled the probe and sealed off the Bleed by creating the Multiverse Machine (or "Orrery of Worlds"), but his contemplation of the workings of the Machine (doubtless combined with the established fact that the Monitor was linked to all positive matter) resulted in the generation of the World of Nil, populated by powerful vampiric beings with a vast and epic history, living and continuously evolving manifestations of the Monitor's thoughts, who see themselves as "descendants" of the Monitor himself.
In later interviews, the author of this revised origin of the Monitor race, Grant Morrison, explained it as a metafictional comment on the DC Multiverse as both a living being and a fictional creation, with the Overvoid as a single or multiple pieces of blank white paper, reacting to the ink stories being forced upon it:
What happens if the page is a bit pissed off at the story that's drawn on it? So I thought of the page as God. The idea being that the Overvoid – as we called it in Final Crisis - of the white page as a space is sort of God. And it's condensing stories out of itself because it finds inside its own gigantic white space, self-absorbed pristine consciousness, it finds this little stain or mark, this DC Multiverse somebody has 'drawn'. And it starts investigating, and it's just shocked with what it sees, with all the crazy activity and signifying going on in there. It then tries to protect itself from the seething contact with 'story' and imagines a race of beings, 'angels' or 'monitors' (another word for angel, of course) to function as an interface between its own giant eternal magnificence and this tiny, weird crawling anthill of life and significance that is the DC Multiverse.
In Final Crisis #7, Superman uses the Miracle Machine to restore the Multiverse to the way it was before Darkseid interfered, and in doing so also brings about the end of the Monitors. In their final moments, Nix Uotan condemns his fellow Monitors, claiming that the Multiverse deserves to be free of their interference. The monitors fade to white, and Nix returns to his human form. It has been stated by Grant Morrison that the Overvoid/Overmonitor has retained Nix as his direct interface with the multiverse, similar to the Silver Surfer or the third, Earth-bound incarnation of the Doctor (Doctor Who).
The Flash: Rebirth
The storyline follows the "rebirth" of the Silver Age character The Flash, otherwise called Bartholomew Henry "Barry" Allen, after the character's initial return in DC's 2008 crossover storyline Final Crisis. This is the second "rebirth" limited series issued by DC Comics, it was preceded by Green Lantern: Rebirth (2005).
In the third issue of Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, Libra tells the Rogues that "the Flash the Rogues first battled has come back to the land of the living". The Rogues regroup in the basement of the Flash Museum and lament the possibility of Barry Allen having returned to life, saying, "He ain't like the kid who took it up after him. He never gave us a break". Captain Cold ended the limited series by reflecting on and preparing for Barry Allen. "The Rogues can't outrun him. Once the skies are back to blue, the game's back on... and if the Flash is really back, there's no more rules in this universe to follow." The issue ends with an image of Barry Allen in his Flash uniform running extremely quickly, and the last line of the series is: "Coming next year: The Flash: Rebirth."
The series features all of the Flashes, as well as Professor Eobard "Zoom" Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, as the main villian.
When Barry questions Zoom's return, the villain says that he will be resurrected in a near-future event—as Zoom's corpse is still buried in the present. As Zoom beats Barry and Max, he reveals that the red energy field is a "negative Speed Force" created by Thawne's kinetic energy, and is poisoning the normal Speed Force. Zoom reveals his plan: after Barry briefly returned to aid Kid Flash against Superboy-Prime during the Infinite Crisis, Zoom sent a subliminal pulse into the Speed Force to draw back the remains of Barry's self-awareness, which led to Barry's reappearance during the Final Crisis. Zoom then transformed himself into a new kind of speedster—the mysterious murderer seen at the beginning of the story—and created his negative Speed Force to contaminate Barry and the other heroic speedsters.
Despite being outnumbered, Zoom remains confident and notes how the Speed Force affects the aging of the Flash family. He boasts of being responsible for all the tragedies of Barry's life, including the murder of his mother and the framing of his father. Zoom says that Barry's parents had been happy together in the original timeline. Thawne claims that his negative Speed Force gave him the ability to alter the past. Zoom begins to travel through time again, and announces his intention to kill Iris before her first date with Barry. By doing so, he hopes to wipe all memory of Iris from Barry's history. Barry and Wally chase after Thawne. Wally tells Barry to push hard to break the time barrier. They reach Thawne and become the lightning bolt that turns Barry into the Flash and stop Thawne from killing Iris. They chase Thawne, who to dissuade Wally, tells him that one of his children will make his life miserable in the future. Barry and Wally push Thawne back through time. Barry and Wally return to the present where the other superheroes have built a device for Thawne. Barry tosses Thawne into it and Jay activates the device, which severs Thawne's connection to the negative Speed Force. Barry and Wally tie up Thawne. Iris discovers Thawne's weapon in the past and keeps it. With the threat ended, everyone celebrates and welcomes back Barry and the speedsters.
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
The series detailed the journey Bruce Wayne takes through the timestream of the DC Universe after being deposited in the distant past by Darkseid in Final Crisis. Wayne has to overcome amnesia and "history itself" in order to make his way back to present-day Gotham City and retake his rightful place as Batman. The series ran for six issues, each covering a different time period. The time periods are the prehistory, the witch hunts, pirates at sea, the wild west, the noir era (just a few months after Batman was orphaned), and present day, and usually depict the Batcave or the Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne also visits "The End Of Time".
For me, the time thing is to take Bruce Wayne to the limit of what he is as a character, because he's thrown back into prehistory with no memory and no uniform and no tools apart from the fact that he's got his belt. I like of the idea of exploring Batman with this time travel story, but to do it quite convincingly and realistically so that he's really at the edges of what Batman can possibly be. I wanted to see him survive out there, and expose him to these challenges through history that would allow us to watch Batman being born from nothing, basically, from this amnesiac man. I kind of explored him psychologically in “[Batman] R.I.P.”; I broke him down and deconstructed him, and this is really about putting Batman back together again, but in a sequence of what will hopefully be pretty cool one-off stories, with each set in a different time and with a different genre feeling to it.
Struck by the time-and-space-bending Omega Beams of the alien god Darkseid, an amnesiac Bruce Wayne is cast back in time to the dawn of history.
Firstly, I had to select something that could have happened conceivably around the area of Gotham City. When I first started I had the caveman one, and then I really wanted to do gladiator Batman; that was a story I was so excited about – Batman racing across the Forum in Ancient Rome. But then I realized that he can't really do that. He can only jump around [time] in his own area, and that allowed me to tie it into the history of Batman's family... It allowed me to deal with a very specific space that we know to be Batman's. So he starts off in the caveman era and you get to see the actual Batcave as it was then, this kind of place initiation for tribesmen. In the Puritan days, it was a hideout for a girl who was accused of being a witch, and so on through the different time periods... Each of them also has their own distinct atmosphere and genre.
After a series of time jumps, Wayne materializes at Vanishing Point, the vast archive of all history that exists at the end of time, moments before the death of the universe. Here, Bruce's memories return, and the entire truth comes out: Darkseid never intended to kill him with the Omega Sanction, but instead relied on him to survive, building up more and more destructive "Omega Energy" within his body every time he jumped through history, which would eventually destroy reality upon his return to the 21st century. To prompt these jumps, Darkseid sent a servant, a hyper-dimensional monster known as the Hyper-Adapter, to follow Wayne through time, which has followed him to Vanishing Point.
While all of this has been going on, Bruce's allies in the Justice League of America have realized that he is still alive, and have been searching for him. Superman, Rip Hunter, Green Lantern and Booster Gold have been traveling through time (events chronicled in the companion mini-series, Time Masters: Vanishing Point), constantly one step behind Bruce, and now arrive at Vanishing Point just as the final step of Wayne's plan goes into motion. Merging with the robotic Architects that maintain Vanishing Point, he has had his memory wiped once more and allows the Hyper Adapter to possess his body, so that he can bring it back to the present day 21st century using the Time Sphere that his allies arrive in. Per Bruce's plan, the combined might of the Justice League defeats the creature, rips it from his body and hurls it back into the Time Sphere, catapulting it backward through time, defeated. The threat of the Omega Energy remains, however, and so the Justice League medically stop Bruce's heart, inducing death and allowing the energy to dissipate. Before his heart is restarted, the comatose Bruce experiences one final vision of Darkseid and Metron, the former inviting him to embrace Anti-Life, and the latter urging him to dispel Darkseid by facing "the first truth of Batman". Bruce recalls the night he first conceived of the identity of Batman, as seen in Batman: Year One, when Alfred Pennyworth saved his life by suturing fatal wounds, and speaks the truth: as much as he has attempted to claim it all during his crime-fighting career, the Batman has never been alone. Wayne awakens from the coma, purged of the radiation, and dons his cape and cowl once again, commenting that Gotham's disease has spread beyond its borders...and that once again, Batman is needed.
The story is followed by the events in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, and then continues directly into issue #16 of Batman and Robin, in which Batman unites with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne to stop Doctor Hurt, who is revealed to be possessed by the Hyper-Adapter after it was sent back in time. Bruce accepts the current situations after the villains' defeat. The plotline then carries on into Batman Incorporated, where Bruce's realization that he is not alone inspires him to expand his crime-fighting operation and train new Batmen in countries all around the world.
The great thing about comics is that they can act out big psychological struggles or human dramas but on a kind of cosmic or epic stage. The best comics are the ones that ultimately talk about what it's like to be people, but they express it the way that dreams express it: as big symbols.
The new restored universe with only 52 worlds opened a myriad of possibilities for new stories and crossovers with different versions of heroes interacting with the main versions of heroes as well as the stories resulting from the new integrated characters from Milestone and Wildstorm. However, it became chaotic in just 5 years. Many stories and situations of other Universes were not followed well. The number designations could be completely disregarded from story to story and some universes were recreated over and over. In addition, as most of the history of the Modern Age was still being the main continuity, younger readers could not follow the stories of the mainstream versions of the DC Heroes, just as it happened prior to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In order to overcome these new problems, a new event was created to restart the DC Comics' Universe. In the Flashpoint miniseries (May–September 2011), The Flash alters the timeline of Earth-0 creating a ripple effect that affected several past events, Earth-13 (Vertigo Universe) and Earth-50 (new Wildstorm Universe). Similar to the end result of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a new mainstream Earth is created from the former three, with a whole new history. Most of the stories have been retold anew but certain events of New Earth remain (such as Batgirl being crippled by The Joker). Since it was established after Infinite Crisis that if something ever happened to the main Universe, the whole Multiverse could be affected as well, a new Multiverse of 52 worlds was also recreated. This new Multiverse is called The New 52.
The New 52
This time, not all universes were revealed right away, only a couple were revealed in the first two years of The New 52. In addition, in a similar fashion as the Elseworlds logo would appear in comics that did not occur in the "real" continuity, the logo THE NEW 52! would only appear in publications with stories occurring in the new continuity, while those taking place outside of this new continuity (such as Smallville: Season 11 or Batman Beyond Universe) would not bear this distinction. At first it seemed that there was not going to be a naming convention for the Earths as it happened with the 52. The mainstream continuity was known as Prime Earth, although it was not a similar world to the real world as Earth-Prime was. J. Michael Straczynski's re-envisioning of classic Batman and Superman stories was released as part of a series called Earth One. In Grant Morrison's The Multiversity (2014–), the Earths are named in the same format as in the former 52 Multiverse (Earth-6, Earth-7, Earth-8 etc.) Morrison intends for The Multiversity to reveal remaining universes of The New 52 multiverse, and the underlying structure for the multiverse was revealed in a detailed map in the back of several comic books, for which an interactive online version is being maintained and updated on the DC Comics website.
The Monitors are now described as a race of countless members and only 52 remained after the CRISIS event, suggesting that there were Monitors for every world in the original Multiverse instead of just one. Several elements that have appeared across the history to what now is DC Comics have also been actively incorporated in the new structure, such as The Source (The New Gods), The Bleed (Wildstorm's The Authority), the Speed Force and the vibrational barriers (The Flash) and the Rock of Eternity (SHAZAM!).
Oh, yeah. Again, that's one of the things about these ongoing, long-running universes of DC and Marvel, particularly DC, because it's my favorite. To me, that's what it's all about. You pick up a little piece of something, you know, pick up a little piece of a Gardner Fox story and turn it into a brilliant Green Lantern short or what Geoff Johns does when he finds an obscure character [and flesh him or her out], because all these things are left lying about, and the great thing about superhero universes is they don't really end, and the story never really ends.
It's always a crisis, and again, that's a lot of what Multiversity is ultimately about. It's the fact that there is no end to these stories, and that's what makes them great to a certain extent and we can throw in a character or a hero or a villain that's only in a few panels but may inspire another creator to create an award winning six-issue mini-series or whatever. So, it's very much that. It's what I love about them, is the open-ended nature and the sprawling kind of epic, no-horizon nature of these stories.
This new Multiverse has a sphere-like structure with several levels (or Vibrational Realms) as described in the map:
- The Source Wall: the limit of existence, beyond lies the Source and the Unknowable. The Overvoid is shown in the map to exist outside it as well.
- Monitor Sphere: origin of the Monitor race who preserve and study the universe.
- Limbo: "where matter and memory break down". Place were the lost and forgotten go.
- Sphere of the Gods: within it, the realms of old and new gods, demons and even dreams exist.
- Speed Force Wall: also known as the Speed of Light and is the limit to matter. Within it is the Orrery of Worlds and certain worlds exist in it (such as Krakkl's world).
- Orrery of Worlds: realm where the 52 universes exist in the same space, vibrating at different frequencies, within the Bleed. In the center of it are the Rock of Eternity and the House of Heroes.
I think the main idea in Multiversity, what I wanted to talk about and what all the books are about, but particular the Ultra Comics issue and the final issue, is quite simply: Be careful what you let into your head.
In a world where everything is protected — people live in houses with locked doors, they put their valuables in safes, they keep their information safe behind passwords and antiviral controls — we allow pretty much anything into our heads. Particularly since the Internet age has really got its teeth in and we're starting to see some of the effects it's having on people.
I think, to some extent, that's a glut of information and a tide of information that's almost too much for people to take. It has resulted in a kind of sickness in people, exhaustion or resignation. So, ultimately Multiversity is about that, because I like to write stories about stuff that I'm seeing in the world around me, or the stuff I'm feeling. It's about, are you sure you should be letting all this stuff into your head? How do you honestly feel about all the porn and all the things you see, all the beheadings? What's it doing in there?
The Gentry kind of represent all those things that we just accept. To me, the result I'm actually seeing is a kind of soul weariness, a cynicism, a sickness that permeates culture. I think we're all fed up with ourselves and we're just waiting to be destroyed by the other.
There are kind of three endings, and the final ending is probably one of the most concrete things about the whole series. It becomes very down-to-earth and very street-level on the last page. I do want to make it work on that level. Most of these things, they do work on that level. I think they always do. As these things are coming out, it's just the shock of the new that seems to freak people out.
Final Crisis has suddenly become a book everyone can understand. There were people who were forming camps to fight about it. I think people tend to approach my work thinking it's lot more complex than it is, but most of it's on the page, and most of it's an attempt to talk to other comics readers about the stuff we're into. Particularly these superhero comics, they're quite hermetic in that sense, in that there are so many other comic writers and so many other people who read comics get excited by them, criticize them or critique them.
At the same time, I'm trying to talk about real things. That's where the symbolic content comes in, where the Gentry represent all these bad influences, but really each one of the Gentry is kind of a villain archetype taken to the limit. Intellectron is the mastermind taken to the limit. Dame Merciless is the femme fatale taken to the demonic limit. Demogorgunn is the zombie horde taken to the limit, and so on through the rest of them. Lord Broken is the madhouse, Arkham Asylum taken it to the limit. Each of them represents a fairly understandable villain type once you think about it.
So the symbolism becomes, well what do they represent in the real world? For me, they represent forces of nihilism and anti-human hatred, ignorance and greed and stupidity that I see every day. Those aspects of the story, how do you deal with those? How do you communicate those? What happens when there are too many of them in your head and you're starting to feel sick with it? That's the symbolic element in the comic, but at the same time I still have to show what happens with Red Racer's affair with Flashlight [laughs]. I still have to show what happens to President Superman at the end and make sure everyone gets returned to their homes and all the crises are brought to an end satisfactorily.
Grant Morrison on Final Crisis #1
This interview was originally on Comic Book Resources.
With the who's who of sequential art descending upon the Big Apple this weekend for New York Comic Con, CBR News tracked down one of the event's guests of honor, Grant Morrison, to discuss the superstar writer's work at DC Comics and to help fans get geared up for all of the weekend's fun and festivities.
We begin our three-part presentation of ALL STAR GRANT MORRISON with a conversation about "Final Crisis," and follow-up tomorrow with a discussion of "Batman" and "All Star Superman" and a little "Seaguy" on Thursday.
Asked right out the gates if "Final Crisis" was truly DC's final "Crisis," Morrison told CBR News, "There are still all kinds of words to put in front of 'Crisis.' There's 'Constant Crisis', 'Future Crisis', 'Mid-Life Crisis.' But please don't say that to them [DC]. Really, don't even hint that there could be more crises
"I mean, it's certainly a big one for me," Morrison continued from his home in Scotland. "I can't take responsibility for what DC management decides to do in the future. But the idea is this isThe Final Crisis, yes. I'm taking it seriously. So if they are going to have a big event after this, they are going to have to use a different word."
Morrison, easily considered one of the top creative minds working in the comics industry today, said "Final Crisis" has been in the works since he left Marvel for DC in 2004. "After I left 'New X-Men,' [Executive Editor] Dan DiDio asked me to come over to DC to do Superman. Back then, they were looking for the next 'Crisis,' which turned out to be 'Identity Crisis,' by Brad Meltzer. I had sent in a big pitch for something called 'Hypercrisis' and it would have included some of the ideas I have about Hypertime and DC's higher dimensions and such. It was a huge storyline, 12 issues, all number ones to launch new series and all connecting to make one big epic," explained Morrison.
"The first page opened with them all standing at Captain Marvel's grave and Superman saying, 'Marvel is dead.' And that's how it was going to open. But they didn't like it and they quite rightly went with 'Identity Crisis,' which was more grounded. But Dan DiDio still wanted something and I was working on 'Seven Soldiers,' so out of that came me saying, 'I want to do something with the New Gods and try to make that franchise work again' and Dan said, 'Well, do you want to do the 'Crisis' for 2008 and bring in all that stuff?' And I said, 'yes.' And this was way back in early 2006. I started on the first script back then."
And while Morrison said, conceptually, he has known what "Final Crisis" would mean to DCU proper for some time; it was his collaboration with artist J.G. Jones that made him realize how grand the project's scale had become. "Stories and series are always evolving whether they are ongoing or finite. I started out and wrote skeleton versions of the first five scripts of 'Final Crisis' and then once I saw J.G. Jones's art come in, that was a real big inspiration for me so I went back and changed some things because his stuff is so brilliant and the characters 'act' amazingly well. It really made it very filmic and tangible.
"It's like 'All Star Superman' with Frank [Quitely], where you can go back and take out a lot of dialogue and exposition because the art does all of the work it's supposed to.
"There were some things that J.G. had inspired in me which began to feed into some of the issues I was working on, so issue #3, for instance, changed quite considerably and #4 changed too. They were heading towards the same big peaks and the same big finale but some of the little twists and turns along the way started to get a bit more intricate than when I started."
Morrison confirmed the Jack Kirby-created New Gods force a majority of the twists and turns in "Final Crisis," and the writer's first vision of the epic tale was based on the question of what if not one, but ten world ravagers came to Earth.
"The New Gods, as a concept, is so brilliant. And more importantly, the New Gods gave us Darkseid, who has always been DC's greatest villain," said Morrison. "He's probably New Gods' greatest contribution to the DC Universe. But beyond that, everything about the New Gods is amazing. I read those Kirby omnibus books all the time. They're filled with so many characters and so many big ideas. The whole thing is a complete re-creation of the superhero concept as pop mythology. Kirby rewires the whole thing.
"But people tend to think about the New Gods AS superheroes these days. And even I've done it myself in 'JLA' where they're just these guys with a bit of extra power, who have a bit more snarl and crackle on their faces. But they've never really been treated AS gods with all the implications of that.
"What would it really be like if bad gods turned up on Earth? Because as this story opens, the war between Good and Evil has been won by the wrong side and Evil is now in control of the DC Universe. And then we see what happens next as a result of that. I've got a tendency to write villains as ultimately dumb and absurd characters but the challenge on this one was to evoke a real sense of evil onto the page. When you think of what people are capable of doing to one another and to other animals, when you add up all the centuries of cruelty and hatred and torture and it's still only a drop in the black ocean that is Darkseid, you realize you can't pussy around when you're writing the God of Evil so it all gets pretty intense and slightly disturbing. And it's happening to the DC superheroes we love.
"The first god character Jack Kirby did, really, on that scale, was Galactus in the Marvel U. So for me, it was simple, look at the threat created by one Galactus appearance on Earth and imagine what would happen if an entire pantheon of these guys showed up, all actively evil. Imagine the scale and the power of just one creature capable of inspiring entire religions, then add more, each more cruel, perverse or demonic than the last. That's the set-up.
"The Gods are here to destroy everything that we hold dear, everything that has meaning to us, everything that has value for us. They want to utterly crush the human species and reduce us all to slavery and that's as big a threat as it gets. We wanted to do a primal superhero myth that would pit absolute evil against pure good in a way you don't see much of in comics these days so it's the story of the DC universe facing its apocalypse and only Darkseid could cut it as the main villain.
"The only person on Earth who's aware of what's happening is Mister Miracle. He's encountered the evil gods before but nobody listens to him because he's a mad, show biz escape artist, who claims he was abducted by Metron. So that was the first basic idea behind 'Final Crisis.' What would happen if 10 beings with the powers of a Galactus turned up and really decided to fuck the world up? They're not just hungry forces of nature you can scare off with an Ultimate Nullifier. We're not insignificant insects to the Evil Gods. We're more like play things. Sport. They take a personal delight in seeing us suffer and they enjoy thinking up new ways to hurt us. So how does it affect the world when the Day of Wrath arrives and these monsters show themselves? What happens to the superheroes? How does each of them confront ultimate darkness? And how do they come back from it? A lot of them will be changed quite considerably."
In his first major tease, Morrison said, "Batman isn't coming back from it. Batman, as we know him, is not coming back from it."
Morrison, who is the regular ongoing writer for "Batman," said while "Final Crisis" is not a major line-wide crossover it will tie into a few regular DC titles including his own Bat-book. "The idea for this year was to not tie into everything else so that's why we're not crossing over with every other book. The tie-ins on 'Final Crisis' are written by me, Geoff Johns or Greg Rucka and all of them are important to the main story" said Morrison. "That being said, with 'Batman,' for instance, the focus on it this year has been on 'R.I.P.' but immediately after that six-parter, there is a two-part story that's kind of the Last Batman Story, in a way, and it ties straight into 'Final Crisis.' So there are certain little crossovers here and there. I have no idea what other people are doing but I know that this year, everyone is trying to do big iconic storylines in their own books, rather than tie into 'Final Crisis'. It's a way of giving some sanctuary to readers who don't want to get caught up in the summer's event books. But there's definitely a before 'Final Crisis' DCU and an after 'Final Crisis' DCU, as you'll see."
In 2005, Morrison launched the mega-series "Seven Soldiers," which earned the writer an Eisner Award in 2006. The project, which was heavily focused on the two New Gods Mister Miracle and Darkseid interconnected seven miniseries and two stand-alone issues. While Morrison hinted that there were a few "little clues" in "Seven Soldiers," he said readers of "Final Crisis" don't have to run out and grab the TPBs or go digging back into their long boxes to follow along with the 2008 event.
"I like to write things so you don't have to read anything extra," Morrison continued. "Obviously, it sells more books for me, so yes, everyone should go out and buy 'Seven Soldiers.' Particularly 'Mister Miracle,' which was the most hated of the 'Seven Soldiers' books and sold least. Stuff like that has little clues in it, but honestly, you don't have to read anything else. 'Final Crisis' is like picking up a book. It's like you're picking up any science fiction book or a fantasy book and starting from page 1. Everything you need to know about the characters will be in the book."
Along the same lines, Morrison shared all readers need to know about the two D-level villains who have been rumored for months as heavy hitters in "Final Crisis" - Libra and Human Flame. "Again, you don't need to know anything about them. Because the more you know about these guys, the lamer they become," laughed Morrison. "I'd rather have people pick up the book and see Libra for the first time done the way I want to see him done and the same goes for the Human Flame character.
"The reason I chose them was because Libra came from my favorite ever run of 'Justice League of America' and he's never been used again. He was a character who had stolen all the powers of the Justice League, but then couldn't handle it and ascended to some kind of screaming godhood where he became a million transparent body parts spread across the sky. So I thought if I was doing a thing about the New Gods, he'd be an interesting guy to bring back because I needed a masked mystery man to start a new recruitment drive for the Secret Society of Supervillains, because they become almost a terrorist sect. Under Libra's guidance, they start doing quite bad things, even to superheroes' wives and families, crossing the line. So there's that element to the story and I needed a masked guy, who people didn't really know that well. And I remembered Libra and the fact that he is connected to this ascending to godhood thing tied him in really quite nicely. What's really going on under the hood will be revealed later in the series.
"With The Human Flame, I wanted a Martian Manhunter villain, and I couldn't find a really good one. Then, looking through the old 'Showcase Presents' books, I discovered this stupid guy called Mike, who declared himself to be the Human Flame. And he wore a homemade costume with six nipples that shot flames. So I just thought this is a great way to start this book because the idea is that Libra gives all the villains a very simple choice, he says, 'Follow me and I'll give you your heart's desire.' And that's it. And some of the villains naturally say, 'Prove it.' So the Human Flame is one of the first to fall in with Libra and he says, 'If you can get revenge on my old enemy, who has had me stuck in jail for the last five years, I'll follow you anywhere.'
"I needed a small-scale dumb guy, who could make very big waves and open the book with a shock moment and the Human Flame fit the bill. Also the name is great, because he's the first of the villains to succumb to the Anti-Life Equation. And the idea of the Human Flame being 'extinguished' in this way was just too cool for me to let go of it.
"All of these guys were chosen for roles in the story, not because they are fan favorites. I just don't play that game. I wish I could. So I don't want readers to run back to their 'Who's Who' thinking that there will be some big revelation about these characters in there. All the stuff you need is in the book. And these two are just the tip of the iceberg, every DC villain appears in this book. There's a cosmic murder mystery running through the book and the really big bad doesn't turn up until the very last issue. There's a lot going on but I've noticed that no matter what I say about the content of 'Final Crisis,' there will still be online fans who'll swear blind they have no idea what the book is about so I'll leave it at that."
And while "Final Crisis" features two relatively obscure villains, Libra and Human Flame, Morrison is certainly no stranger to DCU's larger threats. In "All Star Superman," Morrison has Lex Luthor, in "Batman" he plays with Joker and in "Final Crisis," Darkseid is front center.
The three could be considered the Anti-Trinity for lack of a better term. "Yeah, pretty much. Now that you mention it, I've never actually thought about it that way," said Morrison. "Luthor is the meanest because he is the most fucked up with bitterness which at least is a recognizable human emotion. The Joker would do worse things to you, but you might just get away with it depending on how he felt that day. Actually, you probably wouldn't. He would do mucky, seedy things to you more than likely. And Darkseid, would just annihilate you and your family's free will and have you all slaving in the fire pits with no memory and no hope AND your entire environment ruined forever.
When asked to pick the biggest DCU baddie, Morrison said it depends what your fears are. "Luthor is intellectual evil and the Joker is perverse evil and Darkseid, he is just cosmic evil - evil as an unstoppable idea."
Going the other way, Morrison said only one supervillain would ever consider fighting the good fight. "Luthor, definitely Luthor. The Joker has no meaningful potential for good but Luthor actually has the potential. If he gets rid of Superman, he might be a better person," explained Morrison. "In 'All Star Superman,' though, I am basically saying that he wouldn't be a better person. That he just uses Superman as an excuse and a scapegoat for doing nothing. And I kind of like to use him that way. He talks a big game but if you actually give him a challenge, he's not up to it. Luthor needs validation and to be acknowledged as special, so I think there is the possibility of him helping his fellow men, as long as they put up a statue afterwards and rename the planet Lexor.
"Luthor actually gets his big choice in 'Final Crisis' #3. Everybody gets a big choice in that issue. And after that, choice itself is eradicated by the Anti-Life Equation."
In August, "Final Crisis" will take a one-month break before returning in September with #4. There are a number of reasons for the pause both within the series and in terms of pacing, but the main motivating factor is the Fastest Man Alive. "The main reason for the break after #3 is, for reasons I won't go into here, The Flash winds up running a month into the future. He runs right into #4 at the end of #3. So you kind of get a snapshot of what has happened to the world in that month before finding out all the details in #4. The first three issues show things slowly going wrong, as the steady creep of evil advances so by the end of #3, the Evil Gods are actually manifesting in their full power to possess the planet Earth. And when #4 begins, a month has elapsed and suddenly we're in a whole new world, with very different rules. So that's why we made that break," said Morrison. "The series ramps up into new territory and transforms with #4 and what happens in #4 through #7 is going to have huge ramifications for the DCU in the aftermath."
The Flash, historically, has proved to be a vital cog in all the 'Crisis' events. In "Crisis on Infinite Earths," Barry Allen, the second Flash, died while stopping the plot of the Anti-Monitor to destroy the world. He returns, briefly, in "Infinite Crisis" to team up with the other Flashes - including Wally West, Bart Allen and Jay Garrick - to push Superboy-Prime into the Speedforce, eliminating that threat. Wally and Jay are active and Barry and Bart are dead, but both are rumored to make a return in "Final Crisis."
CBR News asked Morrison point blank, which Flash runs a month ahead into "Final Crisis" #4. He replied with a laugh, "It's not Jay Garrick! In #3 we have a race between the Flash and the Black Racer, who is, as you know, the New Gods' version of Death. So you go and figure it out."
**It should be noted that it was announced in the DC solicitations for July that Geoff Johns' "Rogues' Revenge" Flash miniseries will be tied directly to "Final Crisis.**
Morrison continued, "The break also allows us to do a few specials that fit neatly into the gap. I'm working on a Superman book called 'Superman Beyond,' which I'm hoping will have a 3D section. It's going to be the Superman strand of 'Final Crisis' because he's taken out of the picture in #3. And this is about where he goes and what he does and it has a team of alternate Earth Supermen: Captain Marvel from Earth 5, Ultraman, the evil Superman from the Anti-Matter Earth, Captain Atom from Earth 4 and the 'Nazi Superman', Overman, from Earth 10 in a kind of 'Jason and the Argonauts' voyage beyond the Multiverse.
Again, it's very tied-in to the main story in 'Final Crisis' and the secret origin of the Multiversal Monitors which plays into the whole thing in a big way. Partly it's to get some suspense and anticipation built up, get readers thinking, 'Christ, what's HAPPENED to the world between #3 and #4.' We're setting up the new look of the DCU for the next decade and the specials help to broaden the scope of the whole event.
"Geoff [Johns] and I are doing one of the specials together. You are going to see one particular character on the streets, on the ground during the occupation. Just to see what it's like for ordinary people during the evil gods takeover. So that's the one Geoff and I am going to be doing. But I can't tell you the character yet, although he is a current member of the Justice League."
And while he wouldn't give up THAT character's identity, Morrison did tease a few more of the book's usual suspects. "Everybody is in it. In addition to the big guys, the third issue has Captain Marvel Jr., Supergirl, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Green Arrow and Black Canary. It's got everyone. Pretty well from #4 to #7 is one big battle royale. I want to leave lots of room for the fight. There's about ten issues worth of fighting," said Morrison. "If you've got a favorite character, I am sure he's in it. Supergirl and Mary Marvel are in it. They have a big climatic battle to decide how femininity should be portrayed in superhero comics!
Which begged the question, isn't Wonder Woman in that fight? "Wonder Woman already has problems of her own by that point," laughed Morrison. "Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman get targeted by the New Gods pretty quickly. Those are the first big targets that the Gods have to bring down but you'll see Wonder Woman's confrontation with Mary in #3."
Grant Morrison on Final Crisis #1
This is Matt Brady's article at Newsarama.com.
If there's one thing that Final Crisis #1 by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones did, it was rasie a lot of questions among fans.
What does this mean in relation to Countdown?
What was Anthro doing with Metron?
Where are the New Gods?
Did the Martian Manhunter really...
Well – yeah, a lot of questions.
In the first of our regular installments with Grant Morrison, we spoke with him about the first issue, and he graciously handled the questions.
Newsarama: Grant, let's start with your opening point in time and the role of the New Gods – is what we're seeing with Anthro new, or is that in fact, how things have always been? That is, Metron cast Anthro as Prometheus for humanity of the DCU?
Grant Morrison: There's a lot going on in that scene and yes, it's something new to DC continuity (although there are references in Seven Soldiers to the idea of the New Gods having altered human history for their own purposes, which I'm following up and doing a slightly different perspective on) while also being a representation of how things have always been. In Jack Kirby's Fourth World books (which every right thinking human being should read, if they haven't already), it's pretty clear that the New Gods have known about Earth for a long time and in JLA ten years ago, I suggested that part of their interest in us was rooted in the fact that Earth was destined to become the cradle of a new race of 'Fifth World' super-divinities - an eventuality Darkseid is eager to prevent from occurring.
We have big ambitions for Final Crisis, and the Anthro scene was a way of laying down a kind of primal creation myth for the superhero concept. Anthro (which means 'man' of course) is equivalent with Adam, the First Boy, encountering an 'angel' or higher intelligence which gives him an incredible new weapon, technology, or 'power', which then makes him more than human and moves him to defend his tribe against the forces of chaos and lawlessness. We're seeing a kind of aboriginal genesis of superheroism itself here, so it has resonances with various creation stories, Biblical and otherwise.
And, yeah, I know there are glaring anachronisms (fire was probably first tamed by Homo Erectus over a million years ago) used by in the scene but I just couldn't resist having DC's Anthro character be the one to first use fire as a weapon against evil, so I hope early history buffs will permit me to plead poetic license in this case. I wanted to suggest that being blessed with the gift of fire would be as outrageous as being handed a Green Lantern ring.
NRAMA: Speaking of Metron – his costume is different from the regular dark blue/black that he's worn previously. Is this a new look or a new incarnation?
GM: It's how Metron appears in this series. It's Metron with a bigger effects and costume budget!
NRAMA: From the Final Crisis Sketchbook, it's clear that you and JG redesigned a lot of the New Gods, or gave them new looks altogether. In doing that, what did you keep as your touchstone, your guidance? Trying to channel Kirby in a modern setting?
GM: As ever, the idea was to look at Kirby's originals in the context of the times in which they were created and then foreground those elements of his designs which seem most appropriate to the kind of world we live in today. We're trying to do this in the spirit of Kirby himself, whose restless imagination never stayed still - if you look at the portrayal of Darkseid when he was introduced in 1971, as a kind of cosmic Hitler meets Milton's Satan, compared to the same character in the Hunger Dogs graphic novel thirteen years later, or whatever, where Darkseid's evil seems almost quaint and obsolete in a world that's becoming increasingly mechanized, bureaucratic and faceless, it's easy to see how adept Kirby was at reframing his characters to suit the concerns of the times.
In the same spirit, our Darkseid & co. have been tailored to reflect the fears, the dark desires and the subconscious nightmares of our current, early 21st century, War on Terror culture, as we see them. Kirby was always ahead of his time and his characters are incredible archetypes so we've had no trouble adapting and reintroducing them in a way that allows us to talk about the tensions of our own times.
NRAMA: Speaking of Kirby, why'd you choose Turpin as a mouthpiece character?
GM: Knowing how cosmic and epic it was going to get, I wanted to start the story at street level, with the discovery of the body of a god in the trash. I wanted the ultimate Multiversal crisis to get rolling as an urban murder mystery so I needed a cop, or a detective, and Turpin came with all this great history. He once fought Darkseid's son, Kalibak and he knows how to kill Superman, so he was a good fit for the role I needed him to play.
And, as you'll see in issue #2, Turpin is being set up to take centre stage in a battle that will make his previous struggle with Kalibak look like a game of kiss chase.
NRAMA: Within a few pages of issue #1, you've shown us that you're building upon the foundation that was laid by everything from Identity Crisis through Countdown. In regards to the more recent material, such as Countdown, did you have a hand in planning that out, did you tell editorial where you needed things to be for the start of your story, or did you modify Final Crisis to pick up from where things were?
GM: Well, the way it worked out was that I started writing Final Crisis #1 in early 2006, around the same time as the 52 series was starting to come out, so Final Crisis was more a continuation of plot threads from Seven Soldiers and 52 than anything else. Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started. There wasn't really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage.
Although the 52 writing team was asked to contribute to Countdown, we were all seriously burned-out by the demands of the weekly schedule and I think we all wanted to concentrate on our own monthly titles for a while, so when Countdown was originally being discussed, it was just a case of me saying 'Here's issue 1 of Final Crisis and a rough breakdown of the following six issues. As long as you guys leave things off where Final Crisis begins, we'll be fine.' Obviously, I would have preferred it if the New Gods hadn''t been spotlighted at all, let alone quite so intensively before I got a chance to bring them back but I don't run DC and don't make the decisions as to how and where the characters are deployed.
NRAMA: So. So in essence, you were handed a plate where between Death of the New Gods and Countdown, Orion appeared to have died twice. Picking up with him here, did he wander to the docks from the battle in Countdown #1, or are his terminal injuries from something else?
GM: Again, bear in mind that Countdown only finished last month so Final Crisis was already well underway long before Countdown and although I've tried to avoid contradicting much of the twists and turns of that book as I can with the current Final Crisis scripts, the truth is, we were too far down the road of our own book to reflect everything that went on in Countdown, hence the disconnects that online commentators, sadly, seem to find more fascinating than the stories themselves.
Orion's appearance on the docks and the Guardians' response in Final Crisis #1 was written and drawn first. Jim Starlin then created Orion's death scene in Death Of The New Gods to lead into the War God's appearance in Final Crisis #1, so we refer back to Jim's scene in Final Crisis #3. When I wrote that scene, Orion's terminal injuries were a result of the mysterious bolt of light which Jim hit him with in Death Of The New Gods #6. By the time Countdown #1 came out, I was working on Final Crisis #4 and #5 and JG was drawing #3, so we were already well into our own story and unable to change it to match Countdown.
NRAMA: And so you were left with a handful of continuity issues as result - – why didn't the Guardians call a 1011 when all the other New Gods died? Why didn't Superman recount his experiences in Death of the New Gods when he was talking about the New Gods to the JLA? How did the villains capture J'onn? Obviously, if you dealt in all the minutia of every storyline since Identity Crisis or earlier, you'd go nuts – so what was your personal line in the sand that you used in writing Final Crisis in regards to what “mattered” and what didn't?
GM: What mattered to me was what had already been written, drawn or plotted in Final Crisis. The Guardians didn't call 1011 when Lightray and the other gods died in Countdown because, again, Final Crisis was already underway before Countdown came out.
Why didn't Superman recount his experiences from DOTNG ? Because those experiences hadn't been thought up or written when I completed Final Crisis #1. If there was only me involved, Orion would have been the first dead New God we saw in a DC comic, starting off the chain of events that we see in Final Crisis. As it is, the best I can do is suggest that the somewhat contradictory depictions of Orion and Darkseid's last-last-last battle that we witnessed in Countdown and DOTNG recently were apocryphal attempts to describe an indescribable cosmic event.
To reiterate, hopefully for the last time, when we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to 'seed' material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis.
The way I see it readers can choose to spend the rest of the year fixating on the plot quirks of a series which has ended, or they can breathe a sight of relief, settle back and enjoy the shiny new DC universe status quo we're setting up in the pages of Final Crisis and its satellite books. I'm sure both of these paths to enlightenment will find adherents of different temperaments.
NRAMA: Fair enough. Moving on, your portrayal of Dr. Light really played up a specific side of him, somewhere between sexual predator and serious horndog. You setting him up for some bad stuff that readers won't feel guilty about when they cheer for it happening?
GM: There's certainly that aspect to it. Once you've had the image of Dr. Light hammering away at Sue Dibny's ruptured rear end burned into your neurons, it's hard to write him as one more cackling gimmick villain. I thought it was fun to play up his priapic nature and I enjoy writing super villain conversations but yeah, we're hoping readers will cheer loudly when they see the fate Greg Rucka and the Spectre have in store for randy Arthur Light.
I also enjoyed putting some genuine Glasgwegian street rhythms back into Evan McCulloch, the Mirror Master's dialogue.
NRAMA: Libra said it – Twilight of the Gods. Obviously, not a cast-off reference there...
GM: 'Twilight of the Gods' in this case, is a reference to the Norse Ragnarok or Wagnerian Gotterdammerung. In a story about the 'end times', I wanted to include references to as many 'end of the world' stories as I could - so there are nods to the Biblical Apocalypse, the Ragnarok, Hopi myths, Mayan prophesies, the Hindu Kali Yuga and many others.
NRAMA: Someting that caused major repurcussions with the fans - you killed the Martian Manhunter. Along with the end of the Fourth World, that's some serious stuff there, given his stature and importance to modern comics. And again, he wasn't chosen at random. Give us some broad strokes at what the death of the Martian Manhunter means symbolically…he was the start of the Silver Age, after all.
GM: Exactly. And the thing is, we wanted to open with a nasty, execution-style death of a superhero as a way of demonstrating how far behind us the Silver Age is. We're conditioned to expect the hero to fall after a noble struggle or to give his life saving the universe but this had to be different. The scene was very much about calling time on expectations and letting our readers know up front that the rules have changed. Evil is getting away with it. Things are going to get nastier and grubbier and scarier before it's over, just like in the real world. There's more of that kind of thing in issue #2.
NRAMA: With Turpin's scene in Club Dark Side, I guess we can pull down the pretenses – this is the same as what we saw in Seven Soldiers: Mr. Miracle, correct?
GM: No, the storyline in Mister Miracle happened around the same time as the events in Infinite Crisis.
As we'll learn, when we see Darkseid's 'Fall' from the world of the New Gods - as depicted in DCU #0 - he's falling backwards through time. In DCU #0 we're watching him fall back through the present, into the past of Seven Soldiers where he finally comes to rest in the body of 'Boss Dark Side', the gangster from that story. The implication is that Darkseid has been consolidating his power base on Earth, in a human body, since at least the time of Infinite Crisis. Only Shilo Norman AKA Mister Miracle has any real idea what's going on but he's seen as a crazy-ass showbiz loon who's had a bizarre quasi-religious experience, so no-one takes him entirely seriously.
NRAMA: Still - Seven Soldiers where you did seems exceptionally ballsy – that is, to tell a story that would be reflected in the future, and worry about changing the present to match the future later. Or did you know that Final Crisis was in the pipeline when you were working on Seven Soldiers, and thus, you had a goal you were working towards?
GM: Although I have to admit I was quite enjoying being called 'ballsy', I cannot tell a lie. Seven Soldiers happened in the past, I'm afraid, but it did set up Final Crisis, so yes I always had a goal to work towards and still do.
NRAMA: That all said, will other Seven Soldiers characters be appearing in Final Crisis?
GM: Frankenstein appears in issue #3 and will doubtless turn up in the battle scenes from issue #4 on. We'll probably get a glimpse of some of the others.
NRAMA: In setting up the “Fifth World” of the New Gods, what are you building from? Going through the Omnibuses, it's not clear how far Kirby had planned out in that regard – that is, a climactic and final battle was foretold, but afterwards? How do you get yourself in the headspace to match what Kirby might have done?
GM: I did what you did - I read the Omnibuses/Omnibi (?) to start with. Then I re-read all my copies of The Jack Kirby Collector and anything else I could lay my hands on to help me absorb the Kirby spirit. I practised on books like The Manhattan Guardian and Klarion, where I rebuilt a Kirby concept, using the original raw materials to create a completely new character and set-up.
Kirby was clear that he wanted New Gods to conclude with a climactic battle between Orion and his father Darkseid but because he never got to that point, the mythology has never really been able to move past that wall, so my idea, in Seven Soldiers and now in Final Crisis, was to start from a place where the battle is already over…and, quite unexpectedly, Darkseid has won. Evil won. So now evil can break the rules. Radical, spiritual Evil can worm its way effortlessly into every aspect of life in the DC Universe in a way that it's never really been able to before.
As it is in the cosmic world of the New Gods, so it is on Earth. Where there once was a particular relationship between Good and Evil, with the good guys tending to come out on top, now the moral ground of the universe itself has shifted underfoot and anything can happen.
It's not the way he would have done it, but I like to think Jack Kirby would have enjoyed the story we're telling and I hope he'd appreciate our efforts to channel readers in the direction of his amazing books and characters.
NRAMA: In this new world, Dark Side implies that his body is wearing out….can you explain a little of how the gods are living? Do their souls inhabit human husks? Do they make human bodies from scratch? When their body is killed, do they move to another, or do they die (again)?
GM: When we decided to do a book about gods, we felt it was important to do think through what a 'god' actually is. Gods aren't like souls, or ghosts, gods are much bigger and scarier than that.
You know, it's like every single word culture developed is own pantheon of Gods -which unsurprisingly all share similar traits, like the Greek goddess of Love is Aphrodite, while the Voudon goddess of Love is Erezulie and the Norse goddess of Love is Freya and so on. Now, what you have to understand is this: our primitive forebears weren't stupid and when they talked about gods what they were describing were 'eternal qualities'. In a normal human lifetime, we become possessed by 'gods' every day. When we fall in Love, we are possessed by Aphrodite, when we are witty and clever we are possessed by Hermes or Thoth, when angry we're possessed by Ogun or Tyr or Ares. We tend to call such possessions 'moods'. but even when we are not personally in love or angry, there is always Love and Anger in the world and those eternal wells of Love and Anger and the other 'big' qualities of the human emotional spectrum are what our ancestors personified and called 'gods'. The 'god' in this case, being the timeless quality of 'Love' or 'Anger' that we can all tap into for a little while.
No-one was really ever suggesting that there is a real woman you can touch called Aphrodite, who lives on Mount Olympus - but the sum total of every single human experience of Love is what the Greeks called Aphrodite and the Celts called Brigit and so on. I hope that makes sense.
In the case of Darkseid and his diabolical court, we're dealing with personifications of absolute negative qualities. We've all been possessed by Greed or Hatred in our lives but Darkseid and his pals are embodiments of the timeless qualities of Tyrannical Will or Sadism or Envy or whatever. So in the sense that we can be cruel, or ignorant, or hate people we've never met, we all have Darkseid or Desaad within us. It's like the idea of being possessed by the Holy Spirit, except in this case they are Unholy Spirits and the Gods of Apokolips want us to replace all our good qualities with all our bad qualities so that we become vehicles for their evil intentions.
There's always Greed in the world. There's always Fear. And a lot of this ties into what Geoff's doing in Green Lantern with the idea of the emotional spectrum. We're creating a big mythology for the DC Universe and Final Crisis is intended to be a myth for the 21st century.
NRAMA: Characterize the Monitors, as a group. From Countdown to here, they seem to be in a rush to judge, and easily swayed to the most persuasive argument, no matter how true it is. Kinda makes one worry about the DCU, you know?
GM: Indeed. The Monitors are the elephant in the room of Final Crisis. What they really are is a lot more alien and bizarre than anything we've seen so far. My idea for the origin of the Monitors is one of the major plot strands in Final Crisis - if not the major plot strand -but you won't get to see that until the Final Crisis: Superman Beyond book comes out in the skip month between Final Crisis issues #3 and #4. Definitely keep your eye on the Monitors.
NRAMA: In that vein - can you explain the Orrery of Worlds for us?
GM: See Superman Beyond for the full story. Until then, I'll refer you to current superstring theory which we've mashed up with the DC 'multiverse' idea. Where science walks, it finds the footprints of comics leading the way!
As I described it to Dough Mahnke for Superman Beyond:
'some string theorists have come up with the goofy comic book notion that our universe is only one of many, with its entire three dimensions of space and one of time spread across the surface of a vast flat membrane, or brane, as the physicists like to call them. These branes allegedly drift serenely past one another in some hyper-dimensional jelly medium that's bigger than everything you can imagine, plus, sometimes colliding and rewriting one another's laws of physics.'
We combined that idea with the notion (seen in Flash comics) that the universes of the DC Multiverse 'vibrate' through one another at different frequencies and came up with the notion that the whole structure is creating a kind of cosmic 'music', which is slowly going out of tune. There's more of this and what it means coming up in the books, so I don't want to spoil everything up front. Like I say, I realise certain readers want everything at once but sometimes you have to allow a story to unfold at its own pace if you really want to enjoy it.
The Orrery of Worlds is the Monitor name for the structure of the entire Multiverse as seen from the outside, on a higher scale. Basically, it's everything that ever was, in a jar. What purpose does it serve and why should we all be very afraid? See Superman Beyond.
NRAMA: Hey - what's Anthro drawing there in the end?
GM: He's drawing the circuit pattern that's engraved into Metron's silver suit in the opening scene. When he draws the pattern on the sand, he immediately experiences a vision of a future time, which may lead us to suspect that Metron may have been passing on some kind of knowledge concerning the workings of time and space…
This circuit, along with the Metron 'mask' Anthro paints on his face after his vision, will become more significant as we progress.
NRAMA: And the guy waking up? That's Nix, bannished?
GM: That's the exiled young Monitor, Nix Uotan, now trapped on Earth as a mortal with only vague memories of who he is or where he came from. Clearly somebody wants him out of the way and we'll be seeing more of his story in upcoming issues.
NRAMA: So where do things pick up in #2?
GM: We open in Tokyo, where we meet Sonny Sumo and the members of the Super Young Team. The cosmic murder investigation continues and the Gods of Apokolips continue to make their moves against Earth's best and brightest superheroes. And the book ends with a dramatic return…
We'll be putting up some exclusive sneak preview art from Final Crisis #2 when my revamped website makes its debut hopefully later this week at www.grantmorrison.com (as well as some stuff from Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye and a bunch of other treats) so I hope readers will pay a visit to check out what's upcoming.
And I'll be back next month to answer any questions about Final Crisis #2!
Grant Morrison on Final Crisis #2
This is Matt Brady's article at Newsarama.com.
With apologies for the delay, we're happy to once again to present our conversation with Grant Morrison about the latest issue of Final Crisis, #2.
With the issue, Sonny Sumo made his return (?), we met Morrison's long-promised Japanese super heroes, saw the troubled young Monitor trying to remember the multiverse, the investigation into Orion's death…and then things started hitting the fan, fast and furious – both Dan Turpin and Alpha Lantern Kraken were taken over, and Batman was taken by Darkseid's forces. And Clayface blew up the Daily Planet offices.
What's going on?
That's what we asked Morrison.
Newsarama: Grant, you opened this issue with your Japanese super heroes. You first mentioned these folks back in the very early days of 52. What kept you from getting to them until now?
Grant Morrison: It was just a case of finding a story that really suited them. Originally, there was going to be a strand in 52 with these characters coming to the US to participate in Lex Luthor's Everyman program but we found ourselves concentrating on other stuff and that plot fell by the wayside. Since I wanted Final Crisis to have a huge scope that would take us across time, space, and the dimensions of the Multiverse as well as spotlighting the diversity of DC's international superhero community, Super Young Team allowed us to see something of the pervasive pop influence of superhero culture, and also made sense as a way to get us into the Sonny Sumo/Forever People strand of the story. The super Young Team get a much bigger and better part to play in Final Crisis than they would have in 52, so I'm glad I spared them.
NRAMA: You wrote a fairly extensive backstory for the heroes in the Final Crisis Sketchbook. Could you give the ultra thumbnail version of the history of Big Science Action? As you implied, it's essentially the super-hero equivalent of the culture that parallels Western culture in Japan, correct?
GM: Big Science Action is a team of characters inspired by various archetypal heroes from Japan's own 'Silver Age' of animation and monster movies. Imagine a Japanese Justice League made up of Ultraman, Astro Boy, Marine Boy, Gigantor etc fighting Godzilla and Mothra and you have some idea of the type of role we wanted Big Science Action to play.
Big Science Action were Japan's greatest heroes once, back in the day, but that day has passed and a new generation is on the scene.
I only really intended to use them for one panel of Final Crisis but at the same time, I figured someone else might be intrigued enough to want to play with them elsewhere in the future, so I had to make sure they were fully-fleshed out, as I do with any of the background characters I create. I also threw in Goraiko, the 'Nuclear Totoro' character I created for the Ultramarine Corps back in the JLA days and changed his colour as a little tip of the hat to gray Hulk/green Hulk (speaking of which, I'm surprised no-one noticed the bouncers on the door of the superhero club on Page 1 of Final Crisis #2!)
Super Young Team, on the other hand, are the young pretenders. They're teenagers/early 20s who've never really had to prove themselves in a serious battle, so their elders tend to see them as work-shy wasters and dilettantes in that time-honoured way the older generation have tended to view young people of any given era.
The idea for this bunch came from spending some time in Tokyo a couple of years ago and me being a big fan of Japanese indie crossover pop acts like Cornelius, Kahimi Karie, Pizzicato 5 and others. In the 90s, these musicians, and many others since, took inspiration from Western pop records, but mashed up genres, beats, lyrics and imagery in a way that resulted in music that was both oddly familiar and radically modern. Then, of course, there are the elaborate Lolita, Goth, storybook and manga-influenced costumes displayed by teenagers in Harajuku and Shibuya, so it wasn't hard to imagine a culture of image-conscious hero wannabes recombining familiar elements of American superhero costumes into a fashion/youth cult designed to make them famous. We decided to create a team of superheroes whose look was based on recognisable, cut-up and rearranged motifs from western superhero costumes. The superhero or sci-fi uniform as fashion or couture is an idea that resurfaces now and again in the real world - see clothes by Paco Rabanne, Jean-Paul Gaultier or Thierry Mugler, for instance - and we thought it would give Super Young Team a distinctive look and agenda that would really set them apart from other young superhero teams like the Titans or Infinity Inc.
NRAMA: Grant, is being fantastic really a superpower in and of itself as one of Super Young Team attests?
GM: I like to think so! Superbat isn't actually telling the full truth here, however. He reveals his true 'superpower' in issue #5.
NRAMA: Sonny Sumo - the last we saw him (at least in the Kirby canon), back in Forever People #7, he was stuck in the past, having escaped Darkseid in his own way. He knows of Mother Boxes and the New Gods...is he, were the Forever People untouched by the War in Heaven?
GM: Sonny's appearance in the book is an early clue as to what's really going down behind the scenes. Another clue is 'the mysterious new Aquaman' who makes his debut in Final Crisis #3. As I said before, the Monitors are the elephant in the room of Final Crisis and I couldn't do a Crisis without the alternate Earths of the Multiverse playing a fundamental role.. The presence of Sonny Sumo on 'New Earth' is another big red flag that something is going wrong with the machinery of the entire Multiverse. Darkseid is only the first hint of the real threat. There's a Clark Kent scene in Final Crisis #3 which leads directly into Superman Beyond, and that's where the big Multiverse plot really starts to catch fire.
Superman Beyond is also where we find out what the 'red skies' really mean, and how it all ties in to Warren Ellis' ideas about 'The Bleed' space between universes as well as the origins of the Carrier from The Authority, and the horrifying secret origin of the Monitors. I don't really think readers have grasped the scale of Final Crisis yet but it should start to become clearer by the time Superman Beyond and the other 'skip month' books come out. Sonny Sumo, who by all rights, went back in time and lived and died in feudal Japan is suddenly running around with a Shilo Norman, who doesn't remember being Scott Free's apprentice. What gives? Well, read on…
NRAMA: Back to Big Science Action and Super Young Team...how far out and how far back have you figured out their story? Could you say, sketch out a series with these characters and run with it for a length of time? Would you, perhaps, if people rose up and demanded it?
GM: I worked out a detailed backstory for the history of superhero culture in Japan and I could easily write a long-running series on all of these characters but, apart from Batman, Final Crisis is my last DCU book for a while, so there are no plans for me to go back to these guys just yet. Who knows ? Anything can happen in the future.
NRAMA: That said, though - the backstory of the Japanese teams - why? It's obviously not going to see much play in the series itself, but yet, there it all is in the Sketchbook. Was it a by product of the larger process for you, something that just had to come out so you could better understand the characters, or was it a fully conscious decision to put together their entire history before moving on?
GM: I find it hard to just throw a bunch of arbitrary background characters onto the page because I draw the stories out first in thumbnail form and end up doing meticulous little costume designs for even the most throwaway characters. From costumes come names, from names come origin stories and alter-egos and whole potential epic adventures until I have pages of notes on some background cipher who'll never be seen or heard from again.
As an example, the upcoming Superman Beyond book has a couple of scenes where we get glimpses of different 'Crises' that are going down on various alternate Earths, so I found myself coming up with an entire 'Earth 20' history along with a pretty original idea for an ongoing book I could happily write, all based on one panel image I'd drawn of 'Doc Fate.'
NRAMA: Larger picture wise, what effect is the "rebirth" of the New Gods having on the earth itself? Does the general population feel that something weird is going on?
GM: Oh yeah. I'd imagine the DCU is starting to feel a little more like our own dear 'Earth Prime' around now: life on the streets and online maybe feels a bit angrier, more irritable. There's a horrible, widespread public determination to expose, emphasise and fixate on the flaws in people's personalities, in how they look, in what they say, or sing or think or do for a living and so on. Ordinary kids are cynical and self-harming, while whole nations are still at one another's throats when by, all rights, they should have moved on to a global commonwealth space faring society. Cities are under siege from demented weather and frightened bureaucrats. There's an increased paranoia and hostility, driven by media, an unmistakable, growing sense that something wrong has begun to pervade the zeitgeist. There are bad things about ourselves that we need to acknowledge and overcome if the human project is to prosper in the coming century and Final Crisis is an ambitious attempt to frame some of that serious stuff in the context of a big, daft adventure story.
But, let's face it, weird shit happens all the time in the DC Universe so everyone expects the heroes to take care of it. Nobody has realised yet just how terminal this situation is becoming - not until issue #3.
As we find out, the only New God to be reborn is Darkseid himself. Based on what Jack Kirby himself established, we know that Darkseid has the power to recreate his whole court - Glorious Godfrey, Granny Goodness, Kalibak and the others - from nothing more than memories. As we know, he's able to restore them all to life even after they've been killed, so what we're seeing in Final Crisis is something similar. I'm playing Darksid's allies more as emanations of His Will, like shades in the spectrum of his absolute Evil.
NRAMA: Superman's eulogy for the Martian Manhunter- there at the end, so simple, and yet so logical - "And Pray for a Resurrection." The characters are aware of the kind of world they live in, after all. How broken up should they get, really? After all, four of the circle nearest to the coffin have been "dead" at one time or another...
GM: That's exactly what I thought. We're way past any time where a superhero death can ever be considered final - they even brought back Rita Farr! - and I wanted to show that 'meta' funerals would have to acknowledge this. In its own way, this line also foreshadows the book's conclusion and hints at a major theme which will be played out as the series progresses.
NRAMA: When does that self-awareness of the kind of world they live in become a double-edged sword, though? What happens when you make your characters too smart for their writers or, worse yet, their marketers, who depend on "Someone Dies!" to sell copies?
GM: If it forces the marketers (are there such things ?) to stretch their imaginations a little next time, it can only be a good thing!
Increasing self-awareness and sophistication has never hurt superhero stories. There's no reason why superhero death scenes can't and shouldn't be moving or dramatic if they're done well but there is definitely a well-justified suspicion these days that even the deadest of dead characters will eventually make the return trip from the grave, so why pretend his friends wouldn't be aware of that ? As long as the 'returns' are as good as the deaths, I don't mind how it all plays out. It's the big sprawling ongoing soap opera of the DCU that's exciting to me. In the old Batman stories, the Joker had to appear to die in every adventure, only to be brought back by some plot contrivance. It's how superhero comics work.
Given that Death has the annoying habit of being irreversible in the real world, I'm delighted we can play things a bit differently on the comics page. Like I say, this particular aspect of superhero comics is a big theme in Final Crisis. In many ways, now that I think about it, the whole story revolves around Superman's 'Pray for a resurrection' line.
NRAMA: Over to the villains - does Luthor really not trust Libra despite the delivery on Manhunter, or is he just miffed that he wasn't able to pull it all off, and spite is now motivating him?
GM: A little bit of both. Luthor's career is a record of failure and disaster, so he's not too keen on the new kid on the block coming in and making it all look so effortless. At the same time, Luthor suspects there's more to this upstart than meets the eye, and his alarm bells are ringing. Possibly too late. See Final Crisis #3.
NRAMA: Do all the villains have themed cars?
GM: I wish! I did a search for villain transport and the results are pretty disappointing so J.G. and I had to make these cars up. We gave Sivana a smart car, Captain Cold (presumably) is using the Frosty's ice cream truck and Vandal Savage has a limo but otherwise we couldn't unearth any cool or dumb evil mobiles to use.
The Shadow Thief travels to work by concrete pillar, of course. And take a look at Mirror Master talking about Doctor Light's date with Giganta!
NRAMA: With the Green Lanterns - at the crime scene, what sound was Opto commenting upon when he arrived?
GM: The same sound he hears again in the next panel - the faint, distant, mocking cymbal clash of the little Guardian plasma construct that's been created to divert his attention onto the next page.
NRAMA: You've jumped into the larger Green Lantern mythology that Geoff has worked to establish with the use of Alpha Lanterns and the rest - what is it about what Geoff's done that you dig?
GM: Where to start? Green Lantern is my current favourite comic book, which is purely down to Geoff's talent, as I was never a big Hal Jordan fan and always preferred Kyle Rayner or John Stewart as Green Lantern. It's smart, it's inclusive, it's exciting, the characters are great and the story just keeps peaking and peaking through crescendo after crescendo. It's a masterclass on superhero world-building and a constant inspiration to me, so I felt it was important to provide a meaty role for the Green Lantern characters in Final Crisis.
NRAMA: Along with the Alpha leading the investigation, you also showed Kraken's takeover - can you explain what a takeover by a New God's essence is like, as you envision it?
GM: It's like having foul toxic water poured into your soul. The God attaches itself to whatever part of you that's dark, unconscious and hidden. It latches onto the negative feelings we all have to deal with and begins to feed, eating the victim's consciousness from within, until there is only a shell, a host. It's a forced entry, a true 'possession' and it's necessary for the Evil Gods to gain a foothold in our reality. The Anti-Life Equation is then brought to bear and when you hear that, it's really all over - it erases your free will and turns you into an extension of Darkseid's desires, a mere glove puppet worn by the Master of Evil! Once the Anti-Life Equation is deployed, the Gods of Apokolips become more or less unbeatable.
NRAMA: How hard and fast are the rules of the Gods' possession of humans?
GM: The rules are fairly simple. When the Anti-Life Equation is unleashed at the end of Final Crisis #3, Darkseid takes control of the planet Earth. It's the End of the World as we know it…
NRAMA: As Kraken/Darkseid points it out: they're taking out earth's "strongmen," and they started with Batman. In your eyes, why go with him first?
GM: It actually started with J'onn J'onnz. Then they took down John Stewart and Hal Jordan, then Batman, then Superman. In issue #3, it's Wonder Woman's turn when she confronts the corrupted Mary Marvel. All the big guns are brought down with surgical precision. Although Batman's not as physically strong as other heroes, his moral strength, his brilliance and his will and determination make him an important early target
NRAMA: Who's inside Turpin? Is it anyone specific, or still, just Darkseid?
GM: That'll be Darkseid.
NRAMA: The tiger on the table of the operating room - that's not Talky-Tawny is it?
GM: No, it's not but nice guess. That's Kalibak's new body - mentioned by Godfrey on the previous page - and we'll see it again in issue #4. It's already been established that the genetic labs in the Command-D bunker have been used to engineer fearsome animal hybrids. Command-D also bred the giant Dalmatian dogs ridden by the Atomic Knights (see Final Crisis #3), which suggests an immediate connection to the Dog Cavalry of Apokolips. Here, they've spliced human and tiger material to create a savage new form for Kalibak. Darkseid's son will lead a squad of tiger-men into battle in issue #5, and that's where he'll be running into poor old Tawky Tawny (who first appears in #3).
NRAMA: Where are Highfather and the New Gods of New Genesis in all of this?
GM: Dead. Gone. Only Metron got away because, as Kirby wrote, Metron is 'something -- different! Something unforeseen!! On New Genesis -- or here!!' Metron, the god of science, is the key to the resistance in Final Crisis.
NRAMA: And towards the end of the issue - given their experiences, Flashes have an almost inherent higher understanding of time and dimensions as well as frequencies and vibrations...but we, as readers, don't. So where is Barry running in from at the end?
GM: Barry has been in the Speed Force, beyond life and death. Keep reading for the answers to these and other mysteries.
NRAMA: Finally Grant, since we spoke last, it's been announced that Carlos Pacheco will be stepping in to assist J.G. on art for the series starting with #4. Did that change anything for you on your end, or does that do anything to the momentum of the series as you see it?
GM: It hasn't changed the story we're telling at all. Carlos was my first choice to back-up J.G. when we drew up contingency plans for Final Crisis last year so given the circumstances, I couldn't be more pleased. Carlos has been at the top of my list of artists I've wanted to work with for ages, so I'm very happy he's been able to step into the breach. I think it's okay for a book like All-Star Superman to take its own good time but we felt that an event book like Final Crisis needs to come out on a regular schedule or risk losing momentum. No-one wants to still be reading issues of Final Crisis this time next year, especially when all the other books will be taking place in a post-Crisis world, so we made the choice to roll out the story on time.
Grant Morrison on Final Crisis #3
This is Matt Brady's article at Newsarama.com.
With apologies for the delay since the issue came out, we're happy to present our conversation with Grant Morrison about Final Crisis #3, ie, the issue where it hit the fan.
As with the bulk of Morrison's work, nothing appears by coincidence, and very little should be taken for granted. Along with fully explaining what was what and who was who, Morrison hits us up with a tease for Final Crisis: Submit, as well as his rationale for why the Pentegon use the US postal system to deliver draft notices.
Newsarama: Grant, you started the issue with Frankenstein and SHADE - can you explain how you see them and where they work within the larger DCU?
Grant Morrison: The scene was partly to remind readers that all of DC's covert agencies are organised under the Checkmate umbrella. I originally created S.H.A.D.E. as a kind of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for DC - James Bond meets Superman - a covert dirty tricks agency employing man-made superhumans in black ops espionage activities. Frankenstein joined S.H.A.D.E. in issue 3 of his own book and he seemed like a good, strong representative of the shadowy side of the DCU to open with.
NRAMA: Likewise Renee Montoya - how do you see her fitting into the broader landscape as The Question? Kirby did have faceless agents of justice in OMAC...are you lining things up a little here?
GM: Definitely. I couldn't let the connection pass between The Question's blank 'pseudoderm' mask and the faceless policemen of Jack Kirby's Global Peace Agency from OMAC. So yes, we are seeing those two concepts being brought into line and the beginnings of DC's 'World To Come' are being established here.
As far as how Renee fits into all that, Final Crisis sets her up for a particular role but Greg Rucka has been Montoya's custodian for some time now and ultimately it'll be his decision whether or not she accepts it.
NRAMA: And just so we're clear - that body that Montoya finds - that's the body that formerly housed Darkseid, and that he presumably burned through?
GM: He's in the Dark Side Club, sitting in the same spot where we last met him, wearing the same clothes so yes, we are indeed clear!
NRAMA: The building that Uberfraulein falls through - that's Tower 2 of the new World Trade Center that's been proposed. Was that your idea to put it in there, or JG's?
GM: I established in The Manhattan Guardian how the DC version of New York City contains a number of buildings and developments which were proposed by architects but never constructed. In DC New York, all those fantasy buildings actually exist - so we have things like Frank Lloyd Wright's Ellis Island Key, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center or Hans Hollein's Chase Manhattan bank design as part of the skyline.
I suggested JG show some of these buildings in his shot of downtown but I think this particular choice - Norman Foster's 200 Greenwich Street replacement for the World Trades Center - was his own and works very well in the context.
NRAMA: To translate Uberfraulein's comments, she mentions the "bleeding heavens" - basically, we're taking that this is the Supergirl from earth-10 as shown in the final pages of 52? And that means that something is ripping up the multiverse?
GM: The Multiversal structure of parallel worlds is collapsing. Darkseid's fall has broken the Multiverse basically and he's pulling everything that exists down with him into Hell, the swine!
NRAMA: The cave painting that Cave Carson and his team are shown to have found - while we saw it as being inspired by Metron in #1, it also looks like it has a clear component that resembles the scales carried by Libra. Coincidence?
GM: Until you mentioned it, yes, it was one of the few coincidences in Final Crisis. Now I can only assume yet again that there are no coincidences!
NRAMA: Explain the bullet trajectory here - Barry was chasing it, and it went into the past where it killed Orion, yet, when Barry and Wally stop, they're in the future?
GM: As Jay explains on Page 9, when they fail to catch the bullet that's heading back through time to kill Orion, they must curve back around and start heading home towards the present. The Black Racer is becoming aware of their return on Page 8, panel 2.
Jay Garrick's knee gives out and he limps home to the present day, while Barry and Wally, hitting the Speed Force Barrier at light speed, overshoot the present - or so they think - by a few weeks, only to find themselves in a sneak preview of Final Crisis #4 and the new DC universe status quo.
NRAMA: As a lot of folks have noticed - Barry was smiling on that splash page. Your doing, or JG's? Regardless of whose idea it was...it seemed...appropriate for Barry, no?
GM: It was in the script - described as a big confident Midwestern grin. I figure that even at the darkest moment, Barry Allen would find time to encourage his friends with a display of optimism. That's the kind of guy he is. The consummate superhero.
NRAMA: Why the Hall of Doom, and why would Libra and the rest relocate there?
GM: The hideout in Central City had been compromised by the Flashes in issue 2. I was looking for an alternative Secret Society base and Eddie Berganza, I think, suggested The Hall of Doom, so we went with that.
NRAMA: You want to talk about the lineage of the helmet that Libra has? That's Glorious Godfrey's right? And once they're on someone's head? What then?
GM: That's a Justifier helmet. When it's on your head, it plays the Anti-Life Equation and converts you to Darkseid's cause. The Justifiers are advance troops of the Apokolips invasion and first appeared in Forever People #3 as enforcers for Glorious Godfrey. They combine the thuggery of Nazi Stormtroopers with a religious zealotry that 'justifies' their every action and like to scrawl 'S' for 'scapegoat' on the broken windows of their targets. Nasty bastards. Limbs of Darkseid.
NRAMA: Can you give us a thumbnail of what's going on with Aquaman? Which one is this one?
GM: He's Aquaman. He's always been Aquaman. All will be revealed.
NRAMA: Freddy's comments about changing into Captain Marvel and never coming back...were you giving a nod to Kid Miracleman and Kingdom Come in there, or just expressing the frustration of anyone with an alter-ego?
GM: I suppose there's a little bit of a callback to 'Miracleman' or 'Marvelman' as I knew him, in the scenes with Freddie Freeman and later Mary Marvel but mostly this scene is there to set up the arrival of Shazam and Black Adam to the story and to intensify the atmosphere of doom. Now that Orion, God of Fight is dead, we're seeing DC heroes subtly losing their combat edge and confidence. One of the things I wanted to play with in Final Crisis was the idea of the post-traumatic superhero. In this post-'Generation Kill' atmosphere, I became fascinated by the concept of the traumatised, wounded super-soldier home from the battlefield to a world that doesn't want to know…and a little of that played into this depiction of a world and its heroes facing the end of all hope.
The poignant vision of these gaudy, well-meaning champions of justice from our youth suddenly broken and seemingly powerless in the face of true, radical Evil seemed to me to have significant metaphoric resonance.
NRAMA: The word going out of the draft – via mail? The Article X notice went out by mail? Boy, they sure are missing J'onn these days...huh?
GM: It was President Roosevelt's idea! Yes, that's right - FDR, a finer man than you or I will ever be! Where was a busy world leader like that supposed to find the time to predict and prepare for the invention of e-mail back in World War 2 ?!
We can assume that when Article X is invoked, a whole secret, dusty department of the Pentagon shudders into action and despatches draft notices to everyone on its constantly updated list. Of course, we can also imagine those same heroes being alerted by conventional Justice League, Justice Society and Titans methods but there was something grandiose and ominous about receiving an actual 'Greetings' notice in the mail that really appealed to me and helped emphasise the notion of Article X as a relic of an earlier war.
Also, as we see at the end of the issue, Darkseid's crew pirates our technology to spread Anti-Life, so we'll see humanity having to rely on more primitive modes of communication as of issue 4 of Final Crisis...and the Article X draft notices are a little foreshadowing of that.
NRAMA: Speaking of those who responded, did you pick out the particular heroes in the crowd scene, or was that JG?
GM: I suggested a few of them, then forgot to complete the list before I sent in the script, so JG kindly filled in the rest.
NRAMA: Back with Sam and Shilo - you brought the Wonder Wagon back! I recall a couple of years back, Greg was talking about a 52 session where you had said that cars will be the next big thing in terms of personalization and statement. Still feeling that way, or are things lagging a little?
GM: I'm still waiting for that book where all the DC supercars team up to combat rising fuel costs.
The Super Young Team are representing the Forever People of the Fifth World. The Forever People had their Super-Cycle, the Super Young Team have the Wonder Wagon.
NRAMA: Fair enough – on to Mary Marvel's costume - clearly a nod to the Female Furies, no?
GM: Completely. The design combines features of Mary's original costume with Kirby stylings. The Apokolips gang go for old school fetish club black, while the superheroes prefer to keep their gimp suits colourful!
NRAMA: What's the disease that Mary/Wonder Woman let loose?
GM: As we'll learn, it's a variant on Morticoccus, the death virus introduced by Jack Kirby in Kamandi and used recently to destroy life on Earth 51.
NRAMA: As has been commented upon, the Flashes running page at the end bears striking resemblance to Crisis on Infinite Earths #1...
GM: Well, this is the final part of the Crisis trilogy, so there are a few places where you'll hear these 'echoes' from the previous chapters.
NRAMA: And at the end - the new Female Furies? Batwoman, WW, Catwoman and Giganta?
NRAMA: And finally for this issue - red skies - the skies bleed when the multiverse breaks down, right?
GM: Exactly. Like a haemorrhage.
NRAMA: Set things up a little bit for us - from this issue, how do things flow into issue #4, and where do the specials fit in?
The two specials I'm writing are linked directly to the main plot of Final Crisis and were conceived as a way of taking a closer look at both extremes of the DCU environment - Submit's gritty, down-to-Earth chase drama on one hand and Superman Beyond doing the wild, psychedelic Multiversal epic on the other.
Anyway, Superman Beyond picks up where the Lois Lane hospital scene in Final Crisis #3 left off. Jack Kirby, of course, was the pioneer and master of the 'cosmic' comic book style so we wanted to bring that 'transcendent' dimension to Final Crisis and explore the possibilities of the cosmic story to the limits of the comics form…to its roots in the very basic act of making a mark on paper, even.
Beyond became our attempt to do a full-steam-ahead, trippy cosmic book, like the Marvel stuff that was such a huge influence on me when I was a kid - Starlin's Captain Marvel and Warlock, Engelhart and Brunner's Doctor Strange, Steve Gerber's stuff, Don McGregor and Craig Russell, etc. It's intended to play in the tradition of all those over-the-top, philosophical action superhero dramas of the 70s and with Doug Mahnke, (one of my favorite artists and a brilliant collaborator) on mind-scorching form I'm really pleased by how it's working out.
It started out as a 30 page book but there was no way the story I had could possibly fit in 30 pages so we went to 60, which meant having to split the book in two. I do wish it could all have come out as a single issue - it's meant to be read in one go as a complete and 'definitive' Superman adventure for the ages - but that'll have to wait. I think the second part is out just before the end of Final Crisis and the story rolls straight into the final issue of the main title.
Submit is designed as Beyond's complete opposite number - a straight down the line, street level, Hollywood action book about a family in trouble and on the run in Darkseid's Hell on Earth. It features Black Lightning, gives us a look at the world in the early stages of Darkseid's takeover and loops straight back into the first scene on the opening pages of Final Crisis #4.
Grant Morrison: Final Crisis Exit Interview, Part 1
This is Matt Brady's article at Newsarama.com.
Final Crisis #7, in stores today
With Final Crisis #7 hitting today, we wanted to check in one more time before the end with Gran Morrison to ask him some lingering questions, and give him a chance to explain some of the trickier aspects of the story to date.
As always, Morrison's answers were educations in and of themselves, and hey, we know you're not here to read introductions, so let's get right to it.
Newsarama: Grant, let's start wide focus here – what, when you first started plotting our and planning Final Crisis was your goal? What was the A and what was the Z?
Grant Morrison: The A was Anthro and the Z was Kamandi. First Boy to Last Boy, with the whole DC Multiverse in between. In the end, as I got really into the story, it changed shape a little and now concludes, as it began, with the First Boy, now an Old Man.
Apart from that, my simple goal was to reach the end without too much hassle and/or interference! Apart from one scene at the end, which I included at DC's request, and contrary to online rumours, there were no rewrites on Final Crisis. Every word is mine. The guilt and the glory are all mine!
My intention was to embody the spirit of the DC Universe as I saw it – with all its crazy contradictions and glorious inconsistencies – and to put that spirit under threat. I wanted to see what kind of resources a universe like DC's could pull out of its history to fight against a living, destructive god.
NRAMA: That said, what exactly makes this the Final Crisis? Is it the Final Crisis of the Fourth World, considering that the Fifth World is being born? Otherwise, since the multiverse still exists, there could conceivably be more crises, right?
GM: More than anything else, it's the Final Crisis of the Monitors, as we'll see in #7 and brings that story from Crisis On Infinite Earths to a logical conclusion. It's also the Final Crisis of the Fourth World. How the challenges, possibilities and rules of the emerging Fifth World are developed is something that will either be acknowledged or overlooked by other DC creators in the years to come.
It's also 'final' in the sense that it's all about endings and apocalypses. It shows the DCU degrading, drained of all meaning, drained even of stories and characters, reduced to nothing but darkness, a mute Superman and a greedy Vampire God. We even break down the conventional storytelling modes at the end until there's nothing familiar left in an effort to convey what the end of a universe might feel like.
I suppose there could conceivably be more 'Crises' – DC is a neverending story, after all - but as far as I know there are none scheduled for the near future. Otherwise, I refuse to take responsibility for any that may arise long after I've gone.
NRAMA: As we've noted in our conversations with Dan about what you're doing in Final Crisis, you're pushing Kirby's Fourth World through to its next, long-promised iteration. Obviously, the Fourth World has been held in semi-reverence since Kirby stopped work on it, with tweaks and mild changes along the way, but nothing as big as this. Would you say this was you showing your regard for Kirby's unfinished ideas, or you channelling your inner 19 year old, and just going in and kicking things over to see what new patterns they made?
GM: I wanted to be faithful to the spirit of the King. This had to be a story of gods, of God in fact, hence the 'cosmic' style, the elevated language, the total and deliberate disregard for the rules of the 'screenwriting' approach that has become the house style for a great many comic writers these days. The emphasis on spectacle and wonder at the expense of 'realism', the allegorical approach…it's all my take on Kirby.
In the end, I condensed all the Kirby DC stuff down onto one parallel Earth (51) - the idea of Kamandi in a world with Lightray and Highfather seemed worth revisiting. One day, someone will come along and tell the stories of that world, I'm sure.
NRAMA: Now that it's all done, let's revisit the pairing of Final Crisis with Seven Soldiers as well as 52. The meta-idea of Final Crisis has been riding along with you for now…how many years?
GM: Only since 2006. When I came back to DC in 2003, I pitched a huge crossover event called Hypercrisis, which didn't happen for various reasons. Some of Hypercrisis went into Seven Soldiers, some went into All Star Superman, some went into 52 and some of it found a home in Final Crisis.
Final Crisis is much smaller and more coherent than the Hypercrisis idea and it's more of an obvious sequel to the original Crisis On Infinite Earths than anything I'd originally planned to do. The Kirby aspect narrowed the focus quite considerably, which is why I felt it was important to also have the Monitor story strand as a framing device. This allowed us to expand the scope of the story into the more traditional 'Crisis' areas of red skies and doomed parallel worlds.
NRAMA: One thing that we should address early on is the scheduling of the book. While Final Crisis has had admirable shipping for #6 and #7, it was somewhat…slower with is earlier issues. What happened, and do you think that affected the impact of the story?
GM: What happened was deadlines catching up with very meticulous and dedicated artists.
Given the circumstances and given that Final Crisis was originally scheduled to wrap up in December and now finishes in January, only one month later, I feel respect is due to everyone involved in getting the book out and especially to Doug Mahnke who performed miracles on the last issue.
I don't really think any of this affected the impact of the story. Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. were best-selling books for DC last year and I'm very happy with how everything turned out.
I prefer to see the apparent setbacks as opportunities to enhance the story. In then end, Doug's arrival was perfect because he provided the necessary transition from Superman Beyond. In hindsight, the move from the photo-realistic, real world style of JG Jones towards the hyper-Perez linework overload of Doug Mahnke mirrors exactly the way the story grows from the street-level world of a Metropolis detective to encompass a wildly flourishing cosmos of multi-dimensions, godlike presences and oddly-angled storytelling.
NRAMA: Speaking of Batman - along the lines of the more…controversial aspects of the larger Final Crisis storyline was how Batman RIP was included in it. Obviously, you had a place where Batman needed to be in Final Crisis, and he did meet his “end” in #6, but was that always the way things were supposed to go? Are you aware that there is a large amount of reader discontent that they essentially had to follow into another book to get the resolution of that story?
GM: Batman R.I.P. was planned from the start of my Batman run as the culmination of the 'Batman vs. the Ultimate Diabolical Mastermind' story I had in mind and it was always intended to wrap up just as you read it, before leading into the next chapter of my Batman run and the final twists and turns of this attempt to tell a 'definitive' long-form Batman adventure.
When Dan heard the R.I.P. title he asked me if it could lead us into the 'death of Batman' which he'd planned to occur in Final Crisis, so I made sure the Batman title and Final Crisis reached this particular endpoint at the same time and created a bridge between the two books. It's possible to read Batman through 2009/10 without having read Final Crisis at all, however, so I'm trying to please everyone.
Of course I'm aware of a perpetual and chronic discontent from a particular jaded minority on the internet but I try to overlook their constant expressions of dissatisfaction on the grounds that it's depressing and often personally abusive.
Surely part of the fun of comics includes following stories across titles? If you like comics, what's so awful about buying another one to see what happens next? And if you don't want to buy it, don't bother. Do something else. Buy cigarettes or booze or bananas. I don't know!
Every time I read about the agonizing pains of 'event fatigue' or how '3-D hurts my head…' or how something's 'incomprehensible' when most people are 'comprehending' it just fine, it's like visiting a nursing home. 'Events' in superhero comic books FATIGUE you? I'm speechless. Admittedly they do tend to be a little more exciting than the instruction leaflets that come with angina pills but… 'fatigue'?
Superhero comics should have an 'event' in every panel! We all know this instinctively. Who cares 'how?' as long as it feels right and looks brilliant ?
NRAMA: Fair enough, then. While we're looking at how elements tied in to Final Crisis, given the importance of the elements in the story, why were the story elements of Superman Beyond separated into another book, rather than integrated into branching chapters of the Final Crisis book itself?
GM: This is an easy one. I only had seven issues for Final Crisis and the Monitor story strands that grew into Superman Beyond needed much more room to breathe than was available in the main book. Same goes for the Batman 2-parter from Batman #682 – #683, which is an essential part of Final Crisis also. I hope they'll all be collected in a complete edition eventually.
NRAMA: Speaking of Superman Beyond – how does the timeline work between Beyond, Final Crisis and Legion of 3 Worlds?
GM: The Monitrix Zillo Valla recruits Superman's help in Final Crisis #3 which leads into Superman Beyond #1 and 2, both of which happen in the space between Lois' final heartbeats. He returns to save her in Beyond #2, only to be contacted by the Legion of Super-Heroes to deal with an emergency in the 31st Century – as seen in Legion of 3 Worlds #1. Normally, the Legion is able to return him to his own time an instant after he left, so naturally he feels secure quitting Earth after saving Lois. After his encounter with Superboy Prime in LO3W, however, he returns late to Final Crisis #6, to find time has crashed, Darkseid rules the world and Batman is dead. Oops.
Fortunately, he brings with him the means to save us all.
To get the full Final Crisis experience as the author intended it, the reading order is as follows:
NRAMA: Coming out of Infinite Crisis, there were a number of spin-offs, etc. that you helped design (Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, the Brand New World books). It seems that here, the retrenching is occurring within the home titles for the most part. Was it your intention to strengthen the DCU basics (going back to the original tagline,"Heroes Die; Legends Live Forever")?
- FINAL CRISIS # 1 - 3
- SUPERMAN BEYOND # 1 - 2
- FINAL CRISIS # 4 – 5
- BATMAN #682 – 683
- FINAL CRISIS # 6 – 7
- The other tie-ins and parallel stories are well worth reading too.
GM: I'm not sure I understand the question. I was trying to do something that combined the spirit of Kirby with the freewheeling chaotic nature of the DCU, so I tried to bounce across the major 'families' of characters – Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, The Marvels, Green Arrow and Black Canary etc. At the same time, I wanted to introduce potential new narrative strains and a wider spread of ethnic characters like the Super Young Team or Shilo Norman and Nix Uotan.
Finally I wanted to wrap all that up inside the final story of the Monitors and explain their strange relationship with the DC Multiverse, in a kind of mythic 'origin' story inspired by the basic conflict that defines my job – the war between the white page/the Void and the ink/the Multiverse of possibilities!
NRAMA: Regarding the big legends of the DCU: Superman got his mini-event, Batman took on Darkseid, Flash tries to outrun death, Green Lantern overcomes granny . . . but Wonder Woman turns out to be Anti-Life Patient Zero and spends the bulk of the series as a disfigured thrall. Why does Wonder Woman not have a comparable moment in that context?
GM: I wondered about that myself. I love what Gail Simone (especially) and other writers have done to empower the Wonder Woman concept but I must admit I've always sensed something slightly bogus and troubling at its heart. When I dug into the roots of the character I found an uneasy melange of girl power, bondage and disturbed sexuality that has never been adequately dealt with or fully processed out to my mind. I've always felt there was something oddly artificial about Wonder Woman, something not like a woman at all.
Having said that, I became quite fascinated by these contradictions and problems and tried to resolve them for what turned into a different project entirely. Partly because I didn't want to use any of that new material in Final Crisis, I relegated Wonder Woman to a role that best summed up my original negative feelings about the character. My apologies to her fans and I promise to be a little more constructive next time around.
Wonder Woman gets a 'moment' in Final Crisis #7 but by that time, Mandrakk has sucked all the life out of the story!
NRAMA: During the battle scenes in #6, you spent a surprising amount of time on Tawky Tawny. A lot of fans enjoyed the moment where he defeated Kalibak. So, the question, why was that moment important for you to include while other significant heroes were isolated or did not get big moments?
GM: There was quite a heavy focus on the Marvel Family in Final Crisis so Tawny was part of that just as he was part of the mash-up of Kirby and the DCU that drew me to this project. I couldn't resist drawing a connection between Prince Tuftan's tiger tribe from Kamandi and Tawky Tawny. It just seemed right. Pure comics poetry.
NRAMA: The Satellite scene and Justifiers attacking in modified TIE fighters? Are you stealing something back from George Lucas?
GM: Yes. This wasn't my idea – I asked for generic space shuttles in the script - but it does seem appropriate, given how much of Star Wars echoes 'New Gods' (although Star Wars just can't come close to Kirby's transcendental vision. The Force doesn't even have a Wall! Real fans out there will of course be familiar with the He-Man film, Masters of the Universe, which is the closest any movie has so far come to copying New Gods outright. They even have the Boom Tube, while Skeletor is played as Darkseid and He-man is very obviously Orion).
NRAMA: Speaking of Kirby's creations, why is Sonny Sumo important? Is he there to establish more about the Omega Sanction?
GM: Sonny Sumo is important because he provides the connection between Earth-0 and his home on Earth-51 that Shilo Norman's Motherboxxx uses to plot an escape route from the doomed DC Earth. See? Now you know even less!
All of those characters are there because I wanted to set up the Super Young Team with him and Shilo Norman as another potential series.
The way they fade out of the story is also a pointed comment on how I actually imagine they'll fare as characters in the DC Universe!
NRAMA: The Rubik's Cube parallel for reality is an interesting one; what provoked you to use that as a set piece?
GM: I read a 'New Scientist' article about God's Number and it gave this scene a weird spin that really suited the moment.
The Rubik's cube was a good visual metaphor for the restless shuffling and rearranging of primary-coloured patterns that signifies creative activity in a long-running superhero universe.
NRAMA: The Global Peace Initiative and Lord Eye – is that Maxwell Lord's brain?
GM: I like to think so, yes. The potential seemed huge for a CHECKMATE: GLOBAL PEACE AGENCY book – 'THE WORLD THAT'S COMING IS ALREADY HERE!!!' so I wanted to position that too, if anyone's interested. I'm a big fan of Greg Rucka's brilliant work on both the Renee Montoya character and the Checkmate concept and this seemed like a good way to re-align Checkmate as DC's own spy-chedelic Man from U.N.C.L.E. franchise. I believe Greg has his own plans for Montoya so we'll see what happens next.
NRAMA: The Batman/Darkseid scene – what does the death of Darkseid do to the world?
GM: See Final Crisis #7. Darkseid is falling down through the Multiversal structure into a black hole at the centre of Creation, breaking things and disrupting continuities as he goes.
NRAMA: Afterwards, Metron welcomes the Fifth World – the age of men as gods. Wasn't the Fifth World Darkseid's “World” and age?
GM: Sez Darkseid! Just as Hitler thought the future belonged to the Fuhrer and his glorious Thousand Year Reich, so does Darkseid overestimate his place in the Great Story.
In Final Crisis, I think Darkseid comes to represent all those old, ossified ideas that have lasted way past their time and won't let go of the future.
NRAMA: As others have pointed out, there are echoes of all your superhero work in Final Crisis, as well as hints of The Invisibles. In relation to your larger body of work, how do you see Final Crisis?
GM: It's one of the most highly-structured and demanding pieces of work I've done and brings to fruition a lot of long-time obsessions, I suppose. It's my Monitor-vision, high-altitude view of the DCU as an entity; before I take a long-awaited break to do some other work. It's my sci-fi/horror version of everything I love about DC, everything I ever thought or felt about DC, in one book. It's about the confusion and excitement of getting into this wild, colourful fictional continuum as a kid, and it's an attempt to define what makes DC unique and vibrant in relation to other superhero universes. It also offers a full cosmology of higher dimensions, including our own, and an insight into the creative impulse of God, so it's well worth the cover price, I like to think. It's filled with interesting and life-changing occult and philosophical secrets too and the more you read it, the more you'll pick up on them.
It's also a deliberate attempt to show how so-called 'rules' can be broken to create different kinds of effects in our comics. It's a way of using superhero comics to talk about the 'real' world that doesn't rely on news headlines, mock-'relevance' or 'adult' language and imagery.
I found myself wondering what it would be like if comics' storytelling stopped aping film or TV and tried a few tricks from opera, for instance. How about dense, allusive, hermetic comics that read more like poetry than prose? How about comics loaded with multiple, prismatic meanings and possibilities? Comics composed like music? In a marketplace dominated by 'left brain' books, I thought it might be refreshing to offer an unashamedly 'right brain' alternative.
Just as Marvel Boy in 1999 foreshadowed the storytelling trends of this last decade, Final Crisis is an attempt to predict how 'channel-zapping' techniques might develop as the Fifth World of the Information Age of Obama gets underway and begins to define itself in opposition to the previous generation's 'rules'.
It's all of the above. I was trying to distil everything I love about superhero comics into this loaded, condensed...artefact, which meant using all the lessons I've learned in a lifetime's writing for a living.
Grant Morrison: Final Crisis Exit Interview, Part 2
This is Matt Brady's article at Newsarama.com.
Last week, we kicked off an epic conversation with Grant Morrison about Final Crisis' end and the big picture of the siven issue miniseries.
Given that the earlier interview was conducted before issue #7 hit, we stayed fairly clear of specific plot points and elements of the story's conclusion. With a note of warning for those who don't want to see any spoilers for Final Crisis #7, we wrap up our conversation with Morrison, tackling some specific points and looking at the big picture that issue #7 presented.
Newsarama: Let's start with the opening on the other earth - you mentioned in an interview that this was a nod to Obama's speech where he joked about being rocketed to earth from Krypton....although this feels like a nod to that combined with Marv Wolfman's Earth-D - a possible direction the DCU was supposed to follow after the original Crisis?
Grant Morrison: It was directly in reference to Obama's comments. I wanted to mark the moment where the fearful zeitgeist of the backward-looking Dark Age of Bush/Blair/Bin Laden yielded to the potentially more progressive Obama Age.
I'd completely forgotten about Marv's Earth-D idea but I'm glad this ties in with that too and provides another link with the original Crisis.
NRAMA: Was "The End is Nigh" sign in front of the White House a nod to Watchmen?
GM: Watchmen? What's that? Is that the one where the hero dog gets its head kicked in? Sweet.
No. If it was meant as a proper nod to Watchmen, I'd have asked for the prophet of doom to look more like Walter Kovacs. This is a generic sandwich-board guy who's only here to flag up the mood of Biblical apocalypse from the get-go.
NRAMA: You know we're going to ask...the Supermen who are with the Question and Captain Marvel – analogs all?
GM: They all have names, histories and backstories. Since I wasn't able to use the Superman analogs from other companies directly, I had to create analogs of the analogs.
NRAMA: Generally speaking, how detailed was your script for this issue's other characters? Was it up to Doug, or did you detail who they were, what they looked like, and where they were from?
GM: The script was very detailed and I sent Doug costume sketches for a lot of the analog characters.
NRAMA: I think more than the other issues, issue #7 left people hanging a little...in a good(?) way - the origin and components of the Watchtower, the robot JLA, the unseen Metal Men attack...feel free to fill in the blanks about those, but it seems like there's a lot of story that remained in your head. Can you discuss a little about how you splice out what makes it to the final page, and what stays behind?
GM: The origin of the final Watchtower is described in captions and its components, recognisable to DC readers, are not significant otherwise. The robot JLA and the Metal Men of Earth-44 are one and the same and we see their attack and their defeat by the Luthor/Sivana team on the next page etc.
I choose to leave out boring, as I saw it, connective tissue we didn't really need for this story to work. I choose to leave out long-winded caption-heavy explanations that bring readers 'up to speed', even as they send them to sleep. And we left out the line-wide crossover tie-ins that have every detail of backstory spelled out laboriously by writers desperate to get back to their own plotlines. Otherwise, the whole thing is there on the page in word or picture form…and when interestingly-shaped story spaces can be opened out to make room for enthusiastic speculation and debate that adds to the fun. Looking up characters you thought were simply generic cavemen or monsters and finding they have histories you can explore and adventures you can read adds another interactive layer that takes you deeper into the mysteries and complexities of the DC virtual reality.
NRAMA: Can you speak about the format that you used to tell this last issue's story - multiple narrators telling the story to multiple audiences...why that approach?
GM: If you go back to the first issue, it starts with a 'caveman' version of the basic hero story. Then we get Dan Turpin narrating and so on through the series. Rising Sun narrating the start of issue #2, the Monitor origin story from the Infinite Book in Superman Beyond – even things like Alfred narrating the two Batman crossovers, or the use of magic words throughout the series. It's all about people telling stories to one another, so the final issue makes that explicit.
NRAMA: Likewise the multiple timelines. Would a linear narrative resulted in a different story in the end?
GM: Final Crisis is absolutely linear until the last issue when time folds down on itself and even then it's pretty straightforward A to B to C. A different writer would have resulted in a different story perhaps!
NRAMA: Superman and Darkseid - for those of us who didn't attend night classes on New Genesis...despite being shot through the heart, Darkseid is still alive, he's taking aim at Orion to basically start the whole story, and the Flashes lead the Black racer to him...and that kills him? I feel a little slow here, but when did he start falling through the multiverses?
GM: Again, I don't think you need to know anything about New Genesis or any other information apart from what's in the story. Darkseid wasn't shot in the heart. We all know Batman doesn't kill people, hasn't killed people for 70 years and isn't about to start here. It's a big enough deal for Batman to pick up a gun. He winged Turpin knowing that the Radion in the bullet would be enough to poison Darkseid's divine essence. Radion only kills gods after all. It slays ideas. After that shot, Darkseid is dying, just as someone with radiation poisoning might slowly expire, as Superman explains in #7. The Black Racer drags him struggling away into oblivion over the course of that issue until nothing remains but the fading, ghost-echoes of his malice.
Darkseid started falling through the universe after the event we experienced as The Death of The New Gods. He fell backwards through time and wound up in a human body, on Earth, in the Mister Miracle series back in 2005.
NRAMA: The return of Aquaman...that's the Aquaman? King Arthur returned in the hour of his people's greatest need?
GM: J.G. Jones and I figured it was time to bring back an Aquaman we could all understand, so there he is. Someone else will pick up on that story, I'm sure.
NRAMA: Got it. Back to some details, time-wise here, how long did the building of the machine take?
GM: Time as we know it is no longer in operation at this point in the story, so it takes ten pages!
NRAMA: [laughs] Alright then. From what you've shown, do you have a Luthor/Sivania miniseries in you somewhere? Or at least a one-shot?
GM: That would be good. They make a great double act but I don't have anything planned.
NRAMA: Who was escaping through the tunnel and why did Lord Eye shut it down?
GM: The inhabitants of Checkmate Castle were escaping through the 'Black Gambit' graviton tunnel, as set up in Final Crisis #6 and anchored in place by the Atoms in #7. As time broke down, Lord Eye's programming began to fail. Checkmate technology wasn't up to the task of holding open a tunnel between two entire universes passing one another in hyperspace (the 'Bleed, as Warren Ellis named it, or 'Bulk', as physicists prefer to call the same idea). Lord Eye tries to shut the tunnel down to prevent further damage, but that puts the escapees in danger, so Hawkman and Hawkwoman hurl themselves back into the fray to stop the Eye and save everyone's lives.
At which point, Shilo Norman's Motherboxxx takes charge, reads the co-ordinates off Sonny Sumo and dials up a Boom Tube connection to Sonny's home Earth, now in ruins following the events of Countdown and Final Crisis! Everyone in the tunnel gets transferred to Earth-51, where the Ultima Thule finds them later…as Renee Montoya tells us on page 17.
Sorry if it seemed unclear to some readers but the words and pictures on the page do contain all of the information above if you go back and look. Is it presented in a carefully-composed 'chaotic' way? Yes, because getting caught between two entire universes as they skim past one another at the end of the world, while Justifier troops pour in through the walls to get you would be pretty chaotic and I wanted to capture that. This page is pure Pop Art – big shouty, jagged balloons with 'TIME! SPACE! SHREDDING!' and declarations of love. It's the 4-D Roy Lichtenstein page!
NRAMA: What is Superman's song? What does it sound like?
GM: 'Born In The USA'? 'Crazy In Love'? 'Man, I Feel Like A Woman'? 'My Way'? 'A Milli'? 'Come Into The Garden, Maude'? Whatever your favourite song is, that's what he's singing. For me today, it's 'Granite' by Pendulum.
NRAMA: Element X from Metron (his chair at least...) - that's a reflection of the first scene in the series, and the larger metaphor of the gods giving fire, correct?
GM: Pretty much.
NRAMA: Your collection of Supermen - first, there look to be more than 52...second, you can save it for another time to run them down individually, but do you know who each one is?
GM: I think Doug just kept drawing until he hit the sides! The script specified a ton of variant and parallel Earth Supermen, including Majestic, Apollo, the Red Son Superman, Superdemon and the New Frontier Superman. I also asked for Superwoman from Earth 11, a couple of Sons of Superman – including the guy from All Star Superman #6 and I wanted Bizarro flying in the opposite direction from everyone else but a few of those didn't make it through Doug's pencil.
NRAMA: Nix's troops at the endgame...Captain Carrot? Really? Did you reverse them from what Bill Morrison had done in his story, or did Bill do what he did as a means to hide them from the Monitors and others, for this very moment?
GM: In retrospect, that's exactly what Bill did! We Morrisons have to stick together. At the end of the Captain Carrot miniseries, the Justa Lotta Animals escaped their own Crisis (on Earth-26, I mistakenly wrote Earth-35 in the script so it'll get changed for the trade), only to be turned into a bunch of very ordinary pets on Earth-0. It was a sad ending but it meant that there was now a team of cartoon super animals living in secret on Earth-0. This seemed like a perfect time to bring them back into play.
NRAMA: The final fight with Mandrakk boils down to Supermen and the Green Lanterns, with the GLs delivering the final blow. The Supermen is obvious, but of all the heroes and powers you had to choose from, why the Lanterns?
GM: Darkness vs. Light. The Green Lanterns' are soldiers of Light and they also have a new law which allows them to kill with a smile. It could only be them who shot the ultimate stake into the Cosmic Vampire's heart.
NRAMA: But still - the larger picture here - sun gods, heroes with weapons of light, angels, supercool teens and funny animals joining together to kill a creature of darkness that was sucking the life out of the world. Metaphorically speaking...well, I'd guess that's a pretty big metaphor for what you're wanting to do with Final Crisis?
GM: Your first sentence is a description of everything I love about comics. I just wanted to do the kind of comic I, and others like me, want to read. Apart from one or two things, I'm not getting much of what I'm into from mainstream hero books these days. They're all well crafted and I enjoy the work of all my old favourites as usual but even with hundreds of books a month, I still can't find many comics that deliver exactly what I, as a reader and a fan, am looking for from superheroes in these changing times. That's why I wrote one.
NRAMA: You mentioned that there was one scene that you included at DC's request at the end - was that the scene showing that essentially, everyone was okay, with Lois narrating...or later...in the cave?
GM: The scene was with Batman. I'd made it a little more ambiguous but DC editorial didn't want readers to think Batman might actually be dead for more than a fortnight, so I revised the last page to be somewhat 'on the nose', as they say in Hollywood.
NRAMA: You have the Monitors note that earths 43 and 31 are unmonitored - those were the Red Rain and Dark Knight earth, correct? Why those earths?
GM: A Vampire Batman Earth and the Dark Knight Earth seemed somehow appropriate.
NRAMA: Just to summarize with the New Gods, they've left earth and have taken up residence in Universe 51 in their original togs?
GM: No, the togs are a little shinier and more like J.G. Jones' updated designs from the Final Crisis sketchbook. They now have a newly-fashioned Kirby-flavoured Earth to deal with as they slowly return from 'death' to their full power and majesty. Right now, they're like tribal gods on a primitive planet. Clash of the Titans, dude!
NRAMA: What was Nix's plan that he used to recreate earth 51? Was there more beyond Kirby's map? A full timeline?
GM: He just used the map to build the geography of the new Earth-51. beyond that, yes, he had his own Monitor plan which involved cutting and pasting sections of other times and places into Earth-51's history. And who wouldn't? The effect of all this cosmic Photoshopping occurring around the Command-D bunker caused Kamandi's consciousness to shift wildly through time and the Multiverse, which is why he was able to appear to Anthro in issue 1 and Dan Turpin in issue 2.
NRAMA: As Nix walks us through the end of the Monitors - they were the ones protecting, shepherding and monitoring the 52 worlds. Without them...what happens? As you alluded to before, does this mean the multiverse will...grow?
GM: As we saw in Superman Beyond #1, the original, infinitely vast Monitor-Mind created a 'concept' to contain and study the Multiverse. That concept – a structure known as the Orrery of Worlds – was designed to protect Monitor from the effects of the Multiverse, like a bandage over a wound, or, perhaps, a cage around a wild animal.
The cage is gone now, so yes…anything can happen. Watch this higher dimensional space.
NRAMA: Nix wakes up on earth...are the other Monitors now part of the story as well?
GM: No. Monitor-Mind has worked through its own Ultimate Story and spared Nix Uotan to be its sole representative and interface with the Multiverse. I see Uotan's 'hyperhero' role in the DCU as a cross between the Silver Surfer and Doctor Who (particularly the Earthbound Jon Pertwee iteration of the character).
NRAMA: The radio at the end hints at it - that the story of the multiverse is only beginning. Dan has said to us that he wants you to be the first to explore the multiverse, according to your vision and plan. Can you give us some hints at how you see it all fitting together now, and when you may get the time to dive in?
GM: I'm in the early stages of putting together material for a Multiverse series but I want to spend a lot of time getting it exactly right, so there are currently no deadlines and I don't anticipate any of this coming out until 2010. I'm doing some Vertigo books first.
NRAMA: Superman's final wish - Why did he wish for a happy ending, rather than something literal, like Batman coming back?
GM: 'Batman coming back' is a little bit too specific an ending for a story about stories. Let's face it, there's always a dangerous 'Monkey's Paw' element to making any specific wish – what if Batman 'comes back' but as a zombie, or a villain, or as a tiny little Batman who just sits there?
Superman knows best and chose his wish to maximize the Miracle Machine's effects. And as a happy coincidence, his big pal Batman will come back.
NRAMA: Big, big picture-wise, Superman knows he's part of the story, doesn't he? It's not something he shares with Lois over coffee, but after Final Crisis...he definitely knows, right?
GM: Superman understands his place within the levels and scales of the Multiverse and Beyond, certainly. He knows he's part of 'the story' but not in the kind of 'fourth wall' breaking way of Animal Man, say. Superman knows he's part of a much higher structure of nested realities, in the same way that I do. In his own dimension, his own world, he's absolutely real, with a real life.
NRAMA: Oh, and and finally, we'd be remiss - Batmanthro? What does the Omega Sanction mean for him? Can he fall back into our world? Is he on our world? Does someone have to go find him? Does he have to live a succession of lives like Shilo? So…many…questions….
GM: I'm returning to Batman in June…
NRAMA: Thanks Grant. I think there are a lot of people who are looking forward to what's next.
GM: Thanks, Matt, and for all the interviews in this Final Crisis series. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the book and wasn't afraid to say why. Hope you like the new stuff!